ASSUMPTION PARISH, LA (WAFB) - An Assumption High School teacher was arrested and charged with prohibited sexual conduct between a teacher and a student.
Tracie Becnel Zimmerman was arrested Tuesday evening and is facing a misdemeanor charge.
In a release sent out Wednesday morning, the Assumption Parish School Superintendent Jeremy Couvillion said a student came forward to Assumption High’s administration to express concerns about a potentially inappropriate relationship between a teacher and a student. Once the district learned of the accusations, the teacher was not allowed to have contact with any students.
Assumption Parish Sheriff Lelan Falcon said they learned of the relationship on Tuesday, Feb. 5., and a criminal investigation began immediately.
“The investigation revealed there was some improper conduct there. It did take place outside of the school campus. But still, the person involved with Ms. Zimmerman is a student,” Sheriff Falcon explains.
Zimmerman was charged with one count of prohibited sexual conduct between an educator and a student. She was booked into the Assumption Parish Detention Center, where she was later released on bond.
"Most juvenile laws are going to be based on age differences,” the sheriff says. “Gaps in age or underage. In this case, the student is an 18-year-old. So, he's classified as an adult.”
For this case, age isn't necessarily the focus.
Law enforcement says they are relying on a specific law - on the books in Louisiana - that basically forbids educators and students from engaging in a sexual relationship.
“You always hope that these things don’t occur, but when they do, we’re going to investigate it fairly and impartially and we’re going to apply the law the way it’s written,” the sheriff says.
Once the investigation is completed, the release said the case will be handed over to District Attorney Ricky Babin for evaluation and possible criminal prosecution.
The sheriff says if Zimmerman is found guilty, she faces no more than 6 months in prison and/or a $1,000 fine.
We reached out to the superintendent to find out if the teacher has been placed on leave, the school district refuses to confirm or deny Zimmerman’s employment status, citing it being a personnel matter.