Police say more victims in case of Casper teacher

CASPER — A part-time middle school teacher accused of sexual abuse of a child had multiple victims, a Casper police spokeswoman said Wednesday morning. 

Prosecutors already charged the teacher, Jason Waugaman, 36, earlier this month with three counts of sexual abuse of a minor: two of second degree and one of third degree. Those charges all relate to alleged abuse of the same girl. At the time of the alleged abuse, 2016, she was 14 years old. 

Waugaman, who also worked as a high school speech and debate coach, was fired by the school district in early January. 

He has not yet had an opportunity to enter pleas to the charges he now faces. However, the latest police statement leaves open the possibility that he could be charged with additional crimes pertaining to the newly discovered victims. 

Natrona County District Attorney Dan Itzen, whose office is handling the prosecution of the case, said Wednesday afternoon that he couldn’t comment on whether his office would add additional charges to Waugaman’s case. 

The nature and extent of the latest allegations are not yet clear: Rebekah Ladd, the police spokeswoman, declined to say how many more alleged victims police had identified. She likewise declined to say during what time frame police believe the crimes took place. Ladd did say, though, that the alleged sexual abuse was not confined to 2016. 

School district spokeswoman Tanya Southerland wrote in an email that the district has “not received identifying information as related to the ongoing criminal investigation outside of what has been shared.” 

Police announced Wednesday morning they would hold a news conference Friday morning to detail what the agency now describes as multiple investigations. Later in the day, however, the Casper Police Department announced it was postponing the news conference, citing “new investigative leads being recently presented in this case.” 

“Our goal is to always be as transparent as legally possible with our community by providing accurate information as soon as we are able to,” read the statement from Ladd. “As we continue to investigate this case, our primary commitment right now is to the victim who courageously came forward. Cases such as this are extremely complex and can take an extended amount of time to investigate thoroughly. Our unwavering dedication is to ensure every investigation leads to legally holding criminals accountable for their actions.” 

A rescheduled time for the news conference was not announced. Investigators, according to a written statement issued by the agency, were to describe the allegations and “disturbing trends found in this suspect’s crimes” at the conference. 

Waugaman was arrested at Casper police headquarters on Jan. 16, after an interview in which he denied any sexual misconduct with the previously known victim in the case. 

The victim contacted police earlier this month and said she was sexually abused by Waugaman in July 2016, after months of exchanging text messages that were frequently sexually explicit. The victim told police that Waugaman substituted for one of her seventh-grade classes for about a month, after which time the two started exchanging messages.

Waugaman, who has worked in various capacities with the Natrona County School District since 2007, was fired after he was arrested. At the time of his arrest, little was announced about him, and his name was not publicly available until he first appeared in court. Police did say that they believed he had abused someone via his capacity as a district employee. The district said it removed Waugaman’s access to buildings and barred him from district property while he was in police custody.

The district and law enforcement said that due to a state law related to the identification of sex crime suspects, they couldn’t comment on the case until Waugaman’s case was sent to district court, which it was late last week. 

“We absolutely understand the public concern over recent reports of an individual alleged to have sexually abused a student and recognize the impact these serious allegations have on our community,” the district said in a Tuesday statement acknowledging Waugaman’s identity and firing. 

The former teacher was held in custody for about a week; he was released from jail on a $10,000 bond late last week. One of the conditions of his release is a prohibition on contacting the alleged victim or anyone else under the age of 15. 

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.