Youngsville Police have arrested a couple and accused the wife of having sex with a student and the husband of knowing about it and doing nothing.
The woman, Kimberly Wellman-Rich, is an employee of the Lafayette Parish School System, Youngsville Police say. LPSS has refused to release the status of Wellman-Rich's employment or to say at which school she was working. We've found minutes from a 2018 school board meeting that indicates she was appointed as an "educational interpreter" to work at Edgar Martin Middle School.
She was booked with Felony Carnal Knowledge of a Juvenile, Indecent Behavior With a Juvenile, Encouraging or Contributing to Child Delinquency and Contributing to the Delinquency of a Juvenile. Her bond is set at $72,500.00. Her husband, Jeffery Paul Rich, was booked with Accessory After the Fact to Felony Carnal Knowledge of a Juvenile and Contributing to the Delinquency of a Juvenile. His bond is set at $10,000.00.
They have both bonded out of jail.
Youngsville Police Chief Rickey Boudreaux told KATC the department, LPSS and the agency that placed the teenager in the home removed him as soon as the investigation started.
"As soon as we were able to start sustaining anything with the allegations he was immediately removed from the home by the school board as well as the company that does the placing of them," he said.
YPD is looking into previous exchange students the family might have hosted to see if there were other complaints.
The current investigation began back in January, when someone called in an anonymous tip to YPD. They alleged that Wellman-Rich was hosting a male, juvenile foreign exchange student and she was having sex with the child.
The Youngsville Police Department’s Criminal Investigations Division began investigating the complaint on Tuesday, January 26, 2021. Several interviews were conducted with independent witnesses and evidence was collected during the investigation to substantiate the anonymous complaint that was made. The investigation revealed that Wellman-Rich began having sexual intercourse with the male juvenile when he was 15 years old up until the time he was removed from the Rich residence.
During the investigation, investigators received information from independent witnesses that Jeffery Rich, the spouse of Kimberly-Wellman-Rich, had first-hand knowledge of the sexual relationship his wife was having a sexual relationship with the juvenile male, Youngsville Police say.
In addition to the alleged sexual assault, the investigation alleges that both Kimberly Wellman-Rich and Jeffery Rich supplied the juvenile with Marijuana and allowed the juvenile to smoke Marijuana and consume alcohol at their residence.
As a result of the investigation, Arrest Warrants were applied for both people by investigators. Upon review of the warrant by the 15th Judicial District Magistrate, the warrants were approved and signed authorizing the arrests.
Administrators with the Lafayette Parish School System and the company responsible for placing Foreign Exchange students with families within the United States working in conjunction did remove the juvenile male from the Rich residence on Tuesday, January 26, 2021.
LPSS released the following statement on the investigation on Thursday:
"The Lafayette Parish School System is aware of the allegations of inappropriate conduct by one of our employees. Allegations of this nature will continue to be taken very seriously and will be thoroughly investigated. Never will alleged inappropriate conduct of an employee be taken lightly. LPSS is fully cooperating with law enforcement in their investigation. Because this is a personnel matter, no further information will be provided."
The company responsible for the Foreign Exchange Students, Pan Atlantic, provided a statement.
"We are aware of the allegations and have been providing information to the local and regulatory authorities. We have been working with the student, the student’s natural family and all stakeholders to ensure the student’s safety, and the privacy of all concerned. Pan Atlantic is a mission-driven organization that has a strong commitment to ensure the safety of all persons who participate in these highly regulated programs.Because we have an obligation to protect the privacy of those who participate in these programs, no further information will be provided."
YPD wants to remind the public of the importance of alerting authorities if they see something concerning.
"I'm not saying that had somebody suspected something early on that it would have been prevented," said Boudreaux. "But it could have shortened the time span that it was occurring."
If you are a victim or believe someone else to be a victim of sexual abuse, there is help available.
Hearts of Hope Center for Sexual Trauma
To report suspected abuse please call 1-855-452-5437 or 911.
Hearts of Hope Center for Sexual Trauma’s 24-Hour Crisis Line is available by calling 337-233-7273.