Former Kearney teacher pleads not guilty in sex case

A former Kearney junior high school teacher on Tuesday pleaded not guilty to allegations that he had ongoing sexual contact with a 14-year-old female student in his algebra class.

Rhett C. Rigby, 25, of Oak Grove, appeared during the brief hearing in Clay County Associate Circuit Court. Prosecutors charged him with 10 sex crimes, including four counts of second-degree statutory rape, four counts of statutory sodomy, one count of sexual contact with a student on public school property and one count of victim tampering.

Rigby and his attorney declined to comment after the brief hearing. He remains free after posting $100,000 bond Monday night. Rigby is scheduled to appear in court again on July 18.

Prosecutors alleged the incidents occurred between Oct. 1, 2012, and May 15, 2013, including at the child’s home and in Rigby’s locked classroom.

Rigby and the student exchanged numerous explicit text messages and emails beginning last fall. The two had also sent each other nude photographs of themselves taken with their cellphones, according to court records. The girl ultimately told her mother and a friend that she and Rigby had sex on multiple occasions after school, according to court records.

School officials learned about the contact on May 13 and confronted Rigby the following day. He denied having sexual contact with the girl or exchanging photos with her, according to court records.

Rigby no longer works for the district, school officials said Monday.

Rigby said he began receiving emails from the girl about September. Rigby told investigators he did not send photos of himself to students. Rigby also told school officials that he never was alone with a student before or after school and he never had gone to a student’s home.

However, Rigby said he responded to a text message from the victim on May 14.

The following day, school officials searched Rigby’s classroom and found a pregnancy test in his desk drawer. The girl told authorities that Rigby made her provide him with a urine sample and that he then sent her a photo of a negative result from a pregnancy test, ostensibly based on her sample, according to court records.

A witness later told police she saw several explicit text messages between Rigby and the victim. She had seen his car parked at the victim’s home. The victim later told a friend that if she was pregnant, Rigby would make her take “abortion pills,” according to court records, “whether she liked it or not.”