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Cedar Rapids man accused of grooming, sexually exploiting student while teaching at DeWitt High School
A Cedar Rapids man who worked as a substitute teacher in the Cedar Rapids Community School District was arrested Tuesday on charges that he groomed and sexually exploited a student while he was a teacher at Central DeWitt High School.
Cody David LaKose, 37, is charged with one count of sexual exploitation of a minor — cause to engage in act, and four counts of sexual exploitation by a school employee. He was released from jail Wednesday on a $10,000 bond.
The DeWitt Police Department opened a formal investigation into LaKose on March 2, 2022, after a former student reported that he had groomed her and had a sexual relationship with her while she was his student, according to a criminal complaint.
According to the complaint, LaKose and the reporting student had sexual relations in his office at the DeWitt high school while she was a student, in the spring 2017. He also messaged her on Twitter and texted her, talking about sexual things and asking for and receiving nude photos.
In October, after police attempted to set up an interview with LaKose, which he declined, he texted the victim asking her if she had said anything, the complaint states.
LaKose worked as a coach and teacher at the high school from 2010 to 2018, according to a letter sent to parents by DeWitt Superintendent Dan Peterson.
Between January 2019 and June 2020, LaKose worked as a substitute teacher in the Cedar Rapids Community School District, primarily at Franklin Middle School, according to Caitlin Wiedenheft, the district’s communications director. The district did not receive any complaints about him, Wiedenheft said.
LaKose’s LinkedIn account — which was deleted sometime Wednesday — indicated that he teaches at the Regina Catholic Education Center in Iowa City, having started in August 2020. The school did not respond to requests for comment Wednesday.
The DeWitt student told police that she decided to report because she was worried LaKose could be grooming students in his current teaching position, the complaint states.
Peterson, in his letter to parents and the school community, said that any inappropriate information discovered about LaKose while he worked in DeWitt was reported to law enforcement at the time. Peterson said he’s been following the situation and requesting periodic updates from law enforcement for the past four years.
“Thank goodness they recently had a break in the case allowing them to proceed,” Peterson said in the letter.
When LaKose left the school in 2018 he was asked to submit a resignation, according to a settlement agreement Peterson attached to his letter. The agreement included a stipulation that the district would provide LaKose “with mutually agreeable letters of reference that he can present to prospective employers. The reference letters will not include any untruthful, inaccurate or misleading statements.”
Peterson also attached the criminal complaint against LaKose to his letter, with a warning about its contents, including descriptions of LaKose’s accused actions.
“These are extremely ugly allegations and findings, but I want to be transparent with the information that can be shared. I realize that just because information can be shared, doesn’t mean it should be shared. I just believe in this situation, regarding a former school employee, I should provide as much information as I can. Please guard your heart and eyes from the attachment if you don’t want to read it,” the letter reads.
“Please keep the victim that came forward and their family in your thoughts and prayers. This took such amazing courage,” Peterson wrote.
“This is never the type of information I want to share with you. I am ashamed, disappointed, and heartbroken that this happened on my watch over our amazing school district. I pray that nothing like this ever happens again here … or anywhere else. Most importantly, I hope that this allows those involved to begin to heal.”
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