Crime

Grand jury indicts Missouri teacher accused of grooming middle school boys for sex

Former Joplin, Mo., middle school teacher Amanda Ruth Schweitzer has been indicted by a federal grand jury on charges related to the sexual exploitation of a minor.
Former Joplin, Mo., middle school teacher Amanda Ruth Schweitzer has been indicted by a federal grand jury on charges related to the sexual exploitation of a minor. Facebook

A former Joplin, Mo., middle school teacher has been indicted by a federal grand jury on charges related to the sexual exploitation of a minor.

The indictment alleges that Amanda Ruth Schweitzer, 38, of Joplin, used a minor to produce child pornography from March 1 to March 29, 2017.

The indictment also alleges that Schweitzer transferred obscene material to the minor during that time.

Schweitzer was a teacher at North Middle School in Joplin at the time of the alleged offenses.

The two-count indictment was returned under seal Wednesday by a federal grand jury in Springfield, Timothy A. Garrison, United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, said in a statement.

It was made public on Thursday when Schweitzer was arrested and made an initial court appearance, Garrison said. She is in federal custody pending a detention hearing Tuesday.

The Joplin Globe has reported that Schweitzer and the Joplin School District are defendants in two lawsuits accusing her of engaging in sexual misconduct with three students, sometimes in the school where she worked.

The lawsuit against the district, filed late last month, described incidents involving three students from North. The teen boys were all younger than 15, Fox News reported.

Schweitzer allegedly attempted to groom the three students, attempting to engage in sexual activity with them, the lawsuit alleges.

In one alleged incident, she “nibbled on (a student’s) ear,” ran her hand through his hair and later contacted him on social media to ask “if he enjoyed it.”

When he blocked her communications, she allegedly had sex twice with another minor in the spring of 2017. She also allegedly had unspecified “sexual misconduct” with him in her classroom, the Globe reported.

Schweitzer is charged in Jasper and Newton counties with child kidnapping, two counts of statutory rape and statutory sodomy. Jury trials are set for February and April for those criminal charges.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Ami Harshad Miller is prosecuting the federal case. Investigating agencies included Joplin police, the Southwest Missouri Cyber Crimes Task Force and the FBI, Garrison’s statement said.

He said the federal case came about as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative by the Department of Justice to fight the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse, according to its website.

Greater Kansas City Crime Stoppers most wanted fugitives. Updated Jan. 24, 2018.

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