Teacher Accused Of Fleeing To Mexico With 13-Year-Old Appears In Court

Monday, November 5th 2007, 6:39 am
By: News On 6

EL CENTRO, Calif. (AP) _ A Nebraska middle school teacher accused of running away to Mexico with a 13-year-old to have sex with him appeared in court Monday to face criminal charges.

Kelsey Peterson said nothing as charges that she crossed the border to have sex with a minor were read by U.S. Magistrate Judge Peter Lewis. The judge scheduled a hearing for Wednesday to ask whether Peterson would waive extradition to Nebraska.

Peterson's court-appointed attorney, Diane Regan, declined to comment after the court appearance.

Peterson, 25, was a sixth-grade math teacher and basketball coach at Lexington Middle School, and the boy was once her student.

The subject of a weeklong search, Peterson was taken into custody Friday in Mexicali, Mexico, after the boy's relatives told police he had called home asking for money. She was turned over to FBI agents early Saturday and is being held at the Imperial County jail in El Centro, about 120 miles east of San Diego.

Authorities in Mexico said the boy told police of vague but romantic plans with Peterson to scrap normal teenage life for a life of hiding in southern or central Mexico. Investigators have said they have recovered e-mails and letters in which they both express affection.

Peterson is charged in Nebraska with kidnapping, child abuse and contributing to the delinquency of a minor.

Alfredo Arenas, the Mexican state police official who detained Peterson, said she and the boy had a mutual agreement to flee after stories surfaced that they were having sex.

The two were located through a global-positioning device on Peterson's phone, Arenas said.

The boy was turned over to relatives in Mexico. He was an illegal immigrant while residing in the United States and might not be able to return to the rural Nebraska town where he was an eighth-grader.

The Associated Press had previously named the boy but later removed his name because the most recent charges allege he was the victim of a sex crime.

The boy's family agreed with authorities to send him to the family's home town in Mexico's southern state of Guanajuato to be near his grandmother, uncles and father, said an uncle, Pedro Raya.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokesman Tim Counts would not say whether federal authorities were seeking to deport other relatives of the boy living in the United States, saying the agency does not comment on possible enforcement actions.

``Anyone who is in the country illegally risks arrest and removal under U.S. law,'' Counts said.