A Sioux Falls woman has been arrested on rape and sexual contact with a child charges.
Tonya Marie Drueppel, 33, faces three counts of Rape and two counts of Sexual Contact with a Child Under 16. Drueppel was a teacher at Axtell Park Middle School last year.
According to an affidavit, she and the victim went on dates and were seen kissing in public, and at one point, the 14-year-old girl even spent the night.
The investigation into these allegations started on January 22 and escalated over the next two days after officers questioned both the victim and the defendant.
According to the court affidavit, officers interviewed the 14-year-old victim at Axtell Park Middle School on the 23rd, and she said that Drueppel was her teacher at Axtell the previous year and that is when the relationship began. The next day, the victim did not show up for school and Drueppel did not show up for work. That is when officers found them at a hotel and the Drueppel was trying to hang herself.
After speaking with police, Drueppel confirmed everything that the victim told police.
Sioux Falls Superintendent Pam Homan says Drueppel started with the district as an educational assistant. She worked as a substitute teacher before becoming a full-time teacher. She resigned from the district following the 2012-2013 school year. Records show she worked with the Native American Connections program, which helps Native American students with academic, discipline and attendance problems be successful in school.
Homan says it is very difficult to hear of a child being violated. She says there is no information so far to indicate that any inappropriate behavior happened at the school or on school property.
"We do not tolerate behaviors of this nature with our employees. As you know, in the past, when we're aware of them, we take immediate action. This case, this person is no longer with us, but the pain we feel remains," Homan said.
The relationship is believed to have started in 2012.
Drueppel is being held on $500,000 cash bond. She's expected to be in court tomorrow afternoon.
WARNING: The attached court papers contain graphic details.