Former teacher pleads not guilty to sexual abuse

CASPER — The former middle school teacher accused of sexually abusing a 14-year-old girl he met while teaching pleaded not guilty Thursday morning to the three felonies he faces.

Jason Waugaman, 36, appeared free on bail in Natrona County District Court, where during a brief hearing he entered the pleas to two counts of second-degree sexual abuse and a single count of third-degree sexual abuse of a minor.

 Judge Catherine Wilking also modified his bail requirements to include a provision that Waugaman not have contact with anybody under the age of 18 while awaiting trial. 

Although a circuit court judge in January had ordered Waugman not have contact with minors while out on bail, paperwork Judge Steven Brown filled out at the earlier appearance did not match his oral statement: it only prohibited contact with people under the age of 15. Wilking’s order on Thursday changed that requirement. 

Waugaman, who worked as a part-time teacher at Dean Morgan Junior High School, was fired by the school district following his January arrest. The charges he faces allege that he in 2016 sexually abused a girl whose seventh grade class he taught for about a month. 

The former teacher was held in custody for about a week. He was then bonded out on the $10,000 requirement set by Brown. 

Waugaman has been described by the district as a part-time teacher and a substitute educator. In the district’s directory, he was listed as a tutor at Dean Morgan. He has also been identified, by former students and via official websites, as the speech and debate coach at Kelly Walsh High. The district fired Waugaman after prosecutors charged him with sexual abuse. 

According to court documents filed in the case, the teenager came forward earlier this year, telling police that she and Waugaman had communicated via Snapchat — the phone messaging app known for the ephemeral nature of its messages — for years. Those documents state that she told police that shortly after she began messaging him, Waugaman began making sexual comments and telling the child that he loved her. He asked the girl to send him nude photos of herself and she did so, the documents state. 

During summer 2016, when the girl was 14, Waugaman allegedly met the girl outside of her apartment. The two had sexual intercourse in the back of his car, according to her statement to police. Under Wyoming law, a 14-year-old is incapable of consenting to having sex with an adult. 

When the alleged victim — who is now an adult — told police this year about the incident, a detective asked her if she would re-establish contact with Waugaman. According to the documents, the two exchanged messages in which Waugaman graphically described sexual contact with the girl. He told her that he “wished they could do it again,” authorities allege. In a Jan. 15 follow-up phone call, which was overheard by a detective, Waugaman said he loved the victim and asked if she was 18, according to the documents. 

The next day, Waugaman told police, according to the documents, that his relationship with the teenager was “strictly professional.” He denied using social media to contact any other students. 

Waugaman told police that he had never talked to the victim “about topics of a sexual nature,” nor did he “sext” with the victim. He was then placed under arrest. 

Police said in late January that Waugaman had abused multiple victims over the course of years. An agency news conference scheduled to describe the allegations and “disturbing trends found in this suspect’s crimes” was canceled the same day it was announced. 

The additional allegations have not been charged and police have declined multiple times to elaborate on them. 

On Thursday morning outside of the Center Street courthouse, Assistant District Attorney Kevin Taheri told the Star-Tribune that he could not speculate if prosecutors would seek to bring additional charges relating to the additional police allegations. Taheri said that he had not yet received materials from police on which he would base an additional charging decision.

Sgt. Joey Wilhelm, who oversees Casper’s police detectives, confirmed later the same morning that the agency had not recommended additional charges. He said that police continue to investigate the case.