Teacher Charged With Cyberstalking Roils North Carolina Town

Teacher Charged With Cyberstalking Roils North Carolina Town Mother Said Teacher Sent StudentOver 'Hundreds of Texts' A middle school teacher has been charged with cyberstalking one of her 13- year-old students, and the boy's mother claims that her son isn't the only one receiving inappropriate text messages from the female teacher. Megan Mantooth, 26, is a popular eighth grade math teacher in Burgaw Middle School, a tiny town of 4,000 people in southern North Carolina where her husband is a deputy sheriff. She is also the mother of two, including a 4-month-old baby. The allegations against her have roiled the town with many people defending her and lashing out at her accusers. Mantooth has been charged with cybertalking, allegedly sending "hundreds" of text messages to her student, which included "a lot of sexual innuendos," according to the boy's mother, Elizabeth Graham. According to Graham, Mantooth obtained her son's cellphone number from a fellow student and started texting the child on June 8. Graham said that initially the math teacher texted her son his final grades, followed by general inquiries about his summer plans. "About two hours later, she was still texting my child and my husband took away his phone," Graham said. The "hundreds" of texts that Graham said Mantooth sent her child included one that Graham read to ABCNews.com: "I wish you were home by yourself right now because I don't have the kids," and "More how? As in see ME more or less clothes more, or both." Mantooth allegedly compared herself to the middle school female students telling the boy that she would "look better in a bikini," Graham said. She also allegedly made plans to meet the student at his beach house, texting him, "I cannot wait 8 more days to see you." The mother believes that the middle school teacher was developing an emotional relationship with her 13-year-old son. "Because every word out of her mouth wasn't sexual," Graham said. "She was being nice, like you would if you were boyfriend and girlfriend with a 13-year- old." For the next few days, Graham and her husband continued to respond to Mantooth's texts, pretending to be their son. According to Lt. Billy Sandars of the Pender County Police Department, the incident report was filed by Elizabeth Graham on June 11, four days after initial contact was allegedly made by Mantooth. Graham said that she first approached close friends for advice about how to handle the situation before calling police because, "I thought I might be overacting...and I really wanted to think about it if I wanted my name and my son's name out there." Graham told ABCNews.com that Mantooth also contacted two other male students in her class via text. One of the students' mothers did not return phone calls to ABCNews.com. The other, who prefered to remain unnamed, said that she could not confirm the nature of the texts from the math teacher to her son because he erased the messages. But the woman said she thought that the teacher's behavior was "off." "I asked [my son], 'Why is she texting you?' He said, 'It's okay she's not my teacher anymore.' And I said, 'No it's not ok." That mother never reported Mantooth's behavior to the authorities and questioned the Grahams' actions. "They [the Grahams] themselves texted her for three days," she said. "She's been getting a lot of bad publicity around here. People are really downing her for going on TV and doing the statement that she did." "Her husband is the deputy sheriff here. All of his family is here. All the students do love her," the parent said. According to Graham, all text messages were initiated by Mantooth and continued from June 8 to June 13, often coming as late as midnight. When the parents met with Sanders on June 14, they handed over their phone to him. The lieutenant said he continued to impersonate the boy through text messages with Mantooth "for his own investigations." Mantooth turned herself in on June 16 after Pender County police called to inform her that they had a warrant for her arrest. Sanders said that the police department is still waiting for records from the phone company to confirm exactly how many text messages were sent from Mantooth to the child. Mantooth's voicemail box was full and she did not return calls to ABCNews.com After the charges became public Elizabeth Graham shut down her computer on Friday afternoon to shield herself and their son from "ugly" remarks. Commenters on ABC News' local affiliate WWAY are angry at the Grahams. "Leave Megan alone!!! my guess is, this is an infatuated boy that wanted to act like the pretty young teacher liked him , in an effort to show off to his friends in order to feel special," wrote one angry reader. But the mother is defending her actions. "I did give [Mantooth] the benefit of the doubt. I did not have any venedettas against her. My son made straight A's and B's," Graham said. Community Schools Director for Pender County Schools, Joice Keith, told ABCNews.com that Mantooth has been suspended with pay pending results of the investigation. Mantooth is free on bond. A preliminary court date has been set for July 21. Teacher Charged With Cyberstalking Roils North Carolina Town

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