Ritenour teacher accused of sexual relationship with student

ST. LOUIS COUNTY - A Ritenour High School teacher is accused of having a sexual relationship with a student at his home.

Jared Lehnhoff-Bell, 35, is charged with statutory rape, second-degree statutory sodomy and one count of sexual contact with a student by a teacher.

Authorities say the sexual contact occurred between March 19 and April 10.

A spokesperson for the Ritenour School District says the allegations were brought to the district's attention Wednesday and Lenhoff-Bell was immediately placed on administrative leave pending an internal investigation.

Lehnhoff-Bell has been a full-time social studies teacher at the school since 2002. His last day in class was Friday, April 11. He was absent Monday and Tuesday.

Parents and students NewsChannel 5 talked to say Lehnhoff-Bell was a good teacher and very nice, but some students say a little too nice.

He was arrested Wednesday and charged Thursday with three felonies involving a 16-year-old girl.

"I'm ticked off, I send my kids up here, for education and here he is a grown man with children, supposed to be educating them and not..." said Rick Chumbly, father of five. "So it really ticks me off as a parent."

Students say the allegations are all anyone's talking about on campus.

"It's disgusting, if we have more teachers like this I will not be going to this school because that's nasty," said junior Jasmine Washington.

Students say they aren't surprised about the charges, and would see him and a girl together at school.

"It was like rumors around, but I didn't like believe for real," said Crishawn Torrey.

Overland police found Lehnhoff-Bell and the 16-year-old girl together in her neighborhood around midnight earlier this week. They questioned her the next day and that's when she told them about the sexual relationship with the Lehnhoff-Bell. Overland police found him Wednesday and arrested him.

"He did have a suitcase and looked like he was perhaps leaving, traveling, leaving town, however you want to put that," said Overland Police Chief Michael Laws.

"I hope he gets what's coming to him, I really do," said Chumbley.

Lehnhoff-Bell is held at the St. Louis County Jail on a $25,000 bond. His computer, car, and cell phone have been seized by police.

Chief Laws says they don't know if there are other victims.

The Missouri Department of Family Services has been notified.


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