33-year-old Tonya Drueppel made her first appearance in Minnehaha County Court, and is charged with three counts of rape and two counts of sexual contact with a child under 16. Each charge carries a 15-year sentence. Drueppel is accused of having sexual relationship with a former student for about a year.
According to court documents, officers interviewed the 14-year-old victim at Axtell Park Middle School last Thursday, she said Drueppel was her teacher last year, and that is when the alleged relationship began. The girl also told police she considers Drueppel her girlfriend.
The next day, the victim did not show up for school and Drueppel did not show up for work. Officers found the two at a hotel where Drueppel was trying to hang herself.
A judge set Drueppel's bond at $500,000 cash.
"How this came about, we don't have the answers to that yet," Sam Clemens, Sioux Falls Police Dept., said. "To be honest, we may never know the how or the why."
Police do not believe there were other victims, or that any sexual contact happened within the school.
"It is important to know we've got a lot of teachers in the area and a lot of other people in positions of authority, so this is a small percentage - extremely small percentage that we'd be looking at here," Clemens said.
If anything, Clemens hopes this case encourages parents to talk to their children.
"Kids are going to do different things at different times and they may try to hide it, but the job of the parent it not to be their friend. It's to be a parent and that sometimes involves getting your nose in your kid's business. Even if your kid doesn't want it there," Clemens said.
After speaking with police, Drueppel confirmed everything the victim told police.