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Teacher Takes Plea Deal For Battery For Hugging A Student, Lawyer Says

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A school teacher who was accused of kissing one of her male students has been cleared of those charges, and is talking about why she took a plea deal for misdemeanor battery.

Kristen Roush, a 35-year-old mother of two who taught eighth grade at La Paz Intermediate School in Mission Viejo, was arrested last October. She said she had just pulled her car into the garage of her Aliso Viejo home, with her preschool-aged daughter in the car, when the police arrived. Roush said they told her they needed to speak with her and that she should call someone to take her daughter or else they'd call Child Protective Services, KTLA reports.

Detectives had been investigating Roush for several months after the mother of a 15-year-old male student told the police that she suspected Roush's relationship with her son was inappropriate. Investigators said they found evidence on Roush's cell phone that linked her to the boy, who claimed that she had kissed him and touched his thigh.

Roush told KTLA that she never had any inappropriate contact with her students, including that boy. She said she had occasionally hugged her students, but nothing sexual ever occurred. Roush said that she did, however, give the boy a ride home once.

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She said on that day, she had her two daughters in the car with her when she dropped the boy off, but the boy's mother was still upset.

"[The boy] got out of the car and [his mother] said, 'You are not supposed to be with her.' I said I was under the impression he had permission and she said 'kids lie all the time.'" Roush said the mother was screaming at her, causing her own two children to cry.

After Roush left, the boy's mother notified the police, which ultimately led to Roush's arrest.

Throughout the entire ordeal, Roush maintained her innocence and was supported by her family and co-workers while she remained on unpaid administrative leave.

In July, Roush accepted a plea deal, saying she didn't want her family to have to deal with the cost of a trial, or for her family or her students who supported her to have to testify on her behalf in court. So, she agreed to one misdemeanor count of battery on school property, which she said was for hugging a student. Her felony charges of lewd acts were dropped. Last Friday, she was sentenced to three years of probation. She was also required to resign from teaching.

Roush's attorney, David Wohl, said that the the boy lied about Roush, OC Register reports. "We investigated this case extensively and found that the child admitted to lying to his mother regarding certain issues," he said. "He made claims that [Roush] kissed him that were simply and totally untrue and were never going to be proven in a court of law."

As for the hug, he said, "Theoretically, it's possible that a student was offended when she hugged him, which is all she ever did."