BANNING, CA — A Beaumont High School teacher accused of partying and sleeping with a 16-year-old student pleaded not guilty Wednesday morning to felony sex charges. Samantha Lee Ciotta made her first appearance in the high profile case before a judge in a Banning courtroom.
The 32-year-old mother of two was arrested in September in connection with the alleged relationship, which was uncovered in June, according to court documents. The day after her arrest, Ciotta posted bail and was released.
Police launched an investigation after hearing reports of Ciotta having an affair with a student and a scandalous Snapchat video that allegedly showed her wearing only “a shirt and panties” while drinking alcohol with two shirtless minors, according to records obtained by Patch.
It wasn’t until last week that she was officially charged with two counts of unlawful intercourse with a minor and one count of oral copulation of a child under 18 years old.
The alleged relationship with the boy, who was 16 at the time of the alleged crime but is now 17, started to unravel after a family member texted the victim to confirm whether swirling rumors regarding Ciotta and the boy were true, according to an arrest warrant declaration.
The text the family member received was immediately recognized as coming from a different person, later discovered to be Ciotta’s husband, the declaration states. He later admitted sending the text messages to the victim’s relative because he suspected his wife was having an affair with the student and wanted to find out more.
The alleged victim told police he “tried cover for Ciotta so she would not get in trouble,” but ended his silence when he learned that Ciotta — after having sex with the boy’s 19-year old friend — reportedly said her former student “had ruined her life,” according to documents filed in support of a search warrant.
“He decided to no longer lie for her,” the document states.
Ciotta previously held a teaching position at La Quinta High School and was recently hired by the Beaumont Unified School District.
She remains on paid leave from the school district.
The incident was the first of two teacher sex scandal to hit the school this year.
In October, English teacher Christina Austin, 37, was arrested for having an alleged relationship with a 16-year-old female student. She was arrested by San Bernardino sheriff’s deputies, who said they believe the alleged crimes occurred at or near her Lake Arrowhead home.
— City News Service contributed to this report / Patch photo by Renee Schiavone