TWIN FALLS — Prosecutors say the Twin Falls teacher charged with rape admitted to having sex with a 17-year-old student he had taught at Canyon Ridge High School.
Jason Benjamin, 39, was arraigned Friday and jailed on a $100,000 bond. Benjamin was most recently a math teacher at Robert Stuart Middle School, but had taught at Canyon Ridge from 2009 until 2017. The alleged victim was a student of Benjamin’s at Canyon Ridge during the 2016-17 school year, according to a police affidavit.
The pair reconnected this fall, when the former student added Benjamin on Facebook, according to the affidavit. After about one week of messaging back and forth, Benjamin invited the teenager to his home, she told police.
She allegedly visited his apartment several times in October to “make out” and watch movies. During one of the visits, they had sex, she said. The teen also told authorities that she had sent Benjamin unsolicited photos of herself in her underwear over Facebook messenger.
Benjamin admitted to police that he had sex with the girl one time. He said he was aware that she was 17 at the time, and that “he knew it was wrong but did not know how to make it stop,” according to the affidavit.
The teenager ended the relationship over Facebook messenger shortly after the encounter, both she and Benjamin said.
It’s unclear whether there are other victims, but Twin Falls prosecuting attorney Grant Loebs said he did not have reason to believe that there was more than one.
Benjamin has worked at Twin Falls schools for 12 years, according to the district. He began as a teacher at Robert Stuart Middle School in the 2005-06 school year. After one year at Robert Stuart, he moved to Twin Falls High School, where he taught from 2006 until 2009.
He returned to Robert Stuart as a math teacher this school year because he had had an affair with another teacher at Canyon Ridge and was trying to reconcile with his wife, Benjamin told police.
A search of Idaho court records turned up a pending divorce, filed by Benjamin’s wife in November, but no criminal history.
While teaching at Canyon Ridge, Benjamin also served as an assistant coach for the track and cross country teams. He had a contract to be assistant track coach again this year.
He has been placed on administrative leave by the Twin Falls School District, and is legally forbidden to have contact with any minors under the age of 18 who are not relatives.
A preliminary hearing is scheduled for Jan. 5.