Maries County prosecutors filed seven felony charges against Rikki Lyn Laughlin, 25, of Saint James on Monday. Laughlin is charged with one count of possession of child pornography, one count of tampering or attempting to tamper with a victim in a felony prosecution, one count of second-degree statutory rape, one count of sexual exploitation of a minor, one count of tampering with physical evidence in a felony prosecution, one count of furnishing pornographic material to a minor, and one count of second-degree sexual trafficking of a child under 18.
A former resident of Irondale, Laughlin graduated from West County R-IV, then Mineral Area College and Central Methodist University. Laughlin worked for the West County R-IV school district for two years before securing employment with the St. James R-I school district earlier this year.
A probable cause statement from the Maries County Sheriff’s Office (MCSO) states that the felony offenses occurred between Sept. 8 and Oct. 19. Investigators from MCSO were contacted by Phelps County investigators to look into a possible inappropriate relationship reported by the St. James R-I School District. Police say Laughlin sent pornographic videos and nude pictures of herself to a 16-year-old student.
When investigators spoke with the boy at his residence, he said Laughlin contacted him on Snapchat, and “things progressed fast.” The boy said he and Laughlin had kissed in the school classroom. The boy also told investigators Laughlin expressed her desire to consummate a physical relationship with him and invited him to her home to have intercourse when her husband was away. The boy said he made excuses not to go to Laughlin’s home because he felt uncomfortable.
The young man alleges Laughlin asked for pictures of his private area, and he sent two photographs to her through Snapchat on two separate occasions, and Laughlin confirmed she had received the photos. The boy said Laughlin told him to delete the pictures and videos from this phone because people at school were talking about them communicating via Snapchat. Laughlin allegedly told the boy she could get jail time for her actions. Investigators say the boy showed them a picture he had saved on his phone, which portrayed Laughlin exposing her chest.
Laughlin was interviewed later the same day at her home. Police say Laughlin verbally waived the Miranda Rights read to her and agreed to speak with investigators. According to the report, Laughlin initially denied allegations but eventually said she did communicate with the 16-year-old using Snapchat, saying the boy initiated contact. Laughlin told investigators she had “shut the issue down many times” with the boy. Laughlin also said she did not ask for the pictures of the boy’s private parts, and when told the young man was a minor, she allegedly said, “I was not aware he was a minor until yesterday.” Investigators say Laughlin never denied sending or receiving any videos or pictures.
The interview stopped when Laughlin said she wanted to speak to an attorney. She was arrested, and her cell phone was taken as evidence. Through an attorney, Laughlin gave written permission to search her phone. Investigators say three videos of Laughlin performing sex acts upon herself were found, and the videos match those described to them by the 16-year-old.
Laughlin is in the Maries County jail with a cash or surety bond of $100,000. A bond appearance hearing is scheduled for 10 a.m. Nov. 14 in the Maries County Courthouse.
Jeannie Northrup is a staff writer with the Daily Journal. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org