IDAHO FALLS — A teacher for Technical Careers High School in Idaho Falls has been arrested after a student reported to police that a teacher had sexually assaulted and harassed her.
According to the probable cause affidavit, the victim showed messages between herself and Patrick Todd Smith, 51, to an Idaho State Police detective in which she confronted Smith about the sexual assault.
Smith worked at the high school as an auto collision repair instructor. The affidavit describes a pattern of harassment and touching employed by Smith toward his students that peaked in May 2019 when he reportedly grabbed the victim held her against himself and put his hand down her pants. The reported victim was 17 at the time.
The victim underwent a forensic interview at the Upper Valley Child Advocacy Center. She described Smith as “overly comfortable” with students, that he would often stand too close and give unwanted hugs, and that he would frequently make sexual jokes and comments toward students.
Smith would test the victim’s boundaries, according to the affidavit, similar to other child sex abuse cases in which the suspect grooms victims. She said Smith would touch her, then touch her chest and eventually started kissing her neck. Smith reportedly told the victim his life would be “easier” if she were not a minor.
The victim said Smith would target her while she was working alone. She said that when he sexually assaulted her at school, he told her it “wasn’t fair” that he was attracted to her. She said he told her she could not tell anyone about the incident, according to the affidavit.
Later the same day, Smith reportedly texted the victim asking if she was OK. She said she was not, that she was not comfortable with the situation and that she was too young. A detective viewed the text messages on the victim’s phone.
The victim said Smith acted more appropriately after the text messages were exchanged, but that he would have “flirty outbursts.” She said Smith began inappropriately touching and hugging her again after she turned 18.
Smith was charged with child sexual battery committed by lewd or lascivious acts on a minor child, punishable with up to life in prison.
The Bonneville County Sheriff’s Office confirmed Smith is a former deputy, having worked at the sheriff’s office between 2007 and 2011.
Bonneville County School District 93 released a statement Thursday saying Smith had been suspended.
“Mr. Smith will remain on administrative leave until our internal investigation concludes with a hearing before the Board of Trustees as required by Idaho statute,” the statement said.
A no-contact order was issued between Smith and the victim. His bond was set at $10,000. A preliminary hearing is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. June 2 in the Bonneville County Courthouse.