New Jersey’s State Board of Examiners has suspended the teaching license of a New Jersey woman, who is accused of adopting a former student so she could have sex with him.
Rayna Culver, 45, was indicted in 2018 for two counts of first-degree aggravated assault, four counts of second-degree sexual assault and two counts of second-degree child endangerment after investigators said she had repeatedly sexually abused a 15-year-old boy in her care, according to New Jersey radio station 101.5.
The case has yet to play out in court, but the State Board of Examiners voted in an almost unanimous decision in September to suspend the middle school teacher’s teaching certificate while the criminal case proceeds against her, People reports.
“Culver’s potential disqualification from service in the public schools of this State because of her indictment for such serious offenses provides just cause to take action against her certificates,” read the decision against her, according to the radio station.
Culver has been on leave from her position at a Trenton middle school—where she first met the teen in 2013—since she was arrested in May of 2017.
Rayna Culver Photo: Burlington County Prosecutor’s Office
At the time she met her alleged victim, Culver was married.
Culver and the teen had reportedly become “very close” while she was working as a school climate and culture leader at Rivera Middle School.
“There they developed a relationship and he would talk to her often,” according to criminal complaint in the case obtained by The Trentonian shortly after her arrest.
When the young boy’s relative kicked him out of the house three years later, Culver stepped in to take custody of the then 15-year-old and became his legal guardian.
But authorities say the relationship soon took a dark turn when the pair began a sexual relationship.
“(The victim) believed that the purpose of her taking him in was to eventually make sex a part of their relationship,” court documents state.
The relationship initially began consensually, but the teen said he later felt pressured to carry on the illicit relationship, even after he had voiced his desire to stop. The teen also told police sex “happened almost every day over several months,” according to court records in the case.
Investigators say they later discovered explicit text messages between Culver and her one-time student as well as “biological” evidence that helped to make the case against her, People reports.
However, Culver’s attorney Robin Lord has maintained her client’s innocence, telling The Trentonian in 2017 that the allegations were nothing more than a fictional tale.
“She looks forward to these charges being dismissed,” Lord said. “The state’s theory of the case is a completely fabricated recitation made up by a troubled, young man.