School fires teacher accused in tryst with two students _lowres

Ashley Dowden

A Baton Rouge teacher already accused of having sex with a 16-year-old student was issued a misdemeanor summons Tuesday after she allegedly visited an 18-year-old student’s home on her lunch break in April and had sex with him.

Ashley Dowden, 41, an English teacher at Riverdale Christian Academy, is accused in the summons of inappropriate conduct between a teacher and student, said Casey Rayborn Hicks, a spokeswoman with the East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff’s Office.

Deputies are unsure if the 18-year-old was a student in one of her classes or just a student at the school, Hicks said.

The 18-year-old, who came forward with the allegations after Dowden’s highly publicized arrest Friday, said their April meeting was the only time they had sex, Hicks said.

According to Louisiana Revised Statute 14:81.4, inappropriate conduct between a teacher and a student is defined as a school employee having sex with a student who is between 17 and 21.

Dowden faces a fine of up to $1,000, imprisonment of up to six months or both, if convicted.

Hicks said the Sheriff’s Office has not received any other complaints about Dowden from students and is unsure if there are other victims.

In the first incident, Dowden’s relationship with the 16-year-old student came to light when the boy’s parents confronted him Aug. 12 about explicit text messages on his phone, the Sheriff’s Office has said. When the boy’s parents realized the messages were from Dowden, a teacher at their son’s school, the boy admitted his relationship with her.

During an interview with detectives, the 16-year-old admitted that he had sex with Dowden on the school’s campus and also traded nude photos and texts.

Deputies have said Dowden denied the allegations when they questioned her on Thursday until she was shown the nude photographs from the boy’s phone. At that point, deputies have said, she admitted to the photos and to having sex with him.

Dowden, 314 Steele Blvd., Baton Rouge, was booked into Parish Prison on Friday on counts of computer-aided solicitation of a juvenile, indecent behavior with a juvenile and carnal knowledge of a juvenile.

She was not arrested Tuesday.

Dowden joined Riverdale Christian Academy in August 2013 and was just over a week into her second year when she was arrested, the Rev. Preston Thompson has said. Thompson is the pastor at Redeemer Baptist Church, which is affiliated with Riverdale Christian Academy.

Dowden was well-regarded and had never had administrative issues, Thompson has said.

She was placed on administrative leave after the arrest.

Dowden has spent over 14 years teaching subjects such as English, creative writing, theater and art appreciation, according to her biographical page on the school’s website that has since been taken down. She also worked as an educational coordinator for Playmakers of Baton Rouge, a children’s theater. She has been married for more than 10 years and has a daughter.

Riverdale Christian Academy, founded in 2001, is a private school with about 175 students in grades from kindergarten through 12th grade.