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Iowa Teacher Charged With Sexually Exploiting 17-Year-Old Student On School Grounds

West Des Moines, IA – A 36-year-old high school English teacher was fired and criminally charged amid allegations she engaged in a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old student.

According to court documents, administrators at Dowling Catholic High School received an anonymous email tipping them off about the alleged sexual interactions taking place on campus between 36-year-old Kristen Gantt and one of her students, WHO reported.

The West Des Moines Police Department (WDMPD) said in a press release that they were notified about the accusations on March 21.

Detectives “immediately initiated an investigation into the incident with the full cooperation and assistance of Dowling School Administration,” the WDMPD said.

According to the criminal complaint, the investigation revealed Gantt had engaged in “an inappropriate relationship” with a 17-year-old male student.

Information contained in a search warrant revealed the teacher allegedly exchanged in flirtatious and personal communications with the teen on Instagram and via email, the Des Moines Register reported.

Many of the messages showed “clear and concise grooming activity,” and others contained “more direct sexual overtones,” investigators said.

The student told detectives the Gantt had reached out to him “to provide support” with family issues he was struggling with, according to police.

He denied having any contact with Gantt outside of school and told investigators nothing physical happened between them, the Des Moines Register reported.

“Messages collected through numerous sources show that an ongoing relationship had taken place between the two which was sexualized in nature, had occurred inside and outside of school grounds, and included numerous electronic platforms,” the search warrant application read, according to the Des Moines Register.

Gantt allegedly admitted that she had a physical relationship with the victim, and said the contact between them occurred inside her classroom after school on at least five occasions in February and March, WHO reported.

Dowling Catholic High School President Dr. Dan Ryan said in a letter to parents that Gantt was placed on administrative leave back in March and that she will not be returning to her position at the school.

“Our focus at Dowling Catholic is on protecting the health and safety of our students, faculty and staff,” Ryan said, according to WOI. “Therefore, any allegation, even from an anonymous source, is taken very seriously. Now that this is a criminal matter, I will not be able to share many details. I can tell you that this individual will not return to DCHS.”

Gantt turned herself in to police on April 14 on a felony charge of sexual exploitation by a school employee and an aggravated misdemeanor charge of sexual assault, WHO reported.

She was booked into the Polk County Jail and has since been released on her own recognizance.

The judge also ordered Gantt not to have any contact with the alleged victim, WHO reported.

Written by
Holly Matkin

Holly is a former probation and parole officer who is married to a sheriff’s deputy. She is a regular contributor to Signature Montana magazine, and has written feature articles for Distinctly Montana magazine.

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Written by Holly Matkin


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