New details in Zachary teacher sex abuse case: encounters occurred in public parking lots
The sexual encounters between a Zachary middle school teacher and her underage former student included having unprotected sex inside her husband’s new truck while parked behind the Popeye’s in Zachary, court records say.
Another encounter occurred in the parking lot of Walk-On’s restaurant, also within Zachary city limits, the records say.
New details about the case emerged Wednesday when an arrest warrant prepared by Zachary police was filed into the court record.
Ellarea Silva, an eighth grade science teacher at Northwestern Middle School, was arrested earlier this month and accused of sexually abusing a minor. The details previously reported about the allegations came from a separate arrest warrant from the East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff’s Office.
The agencies each completed their own investigation because the alleged misconduct occurred both within Zachary and in other unincorporated parts of the parish, but the Zachary Police Department refused to release its warrant to the media before it was filed into the court record.
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In addition to the incidents in Zachary parking lots, the teacher and the student had sex numerous times at her house — while her own child was inside the residence, arrest records show.
It’s unclear exactly when the alleged sexual encounters began, but records note the relationship itself lasted more than a year and started when Silva, 34, was the boy’s teacher. She placed a sticky note on his desk one day, saying that he was looking sad. Then the two started exchanging emails, investigators said.
The first exchanges were sent via the school email system and Silva avoided sending “anything that was flirtatious or inappropriate because she knew the school could check the emails,” detectives wrote. Then Silva asked the boy to create a personal email account and “began being very flirtatious” there. They would also sometimes communicate via text messages, but “had to limit the texts because Silva’s husband would sometimes check her phone,” according to police.
The boy told detectives he “thought it was strange because this was his teacher.” She would also send him nude photos but avoided showing her face in them, according to arrest records. Authorities have said the boy was 15 years old when the two started routinely sleeping together last summer.
He said “it became normal” for Silva to pick him up sometimes after school, or in the mornings during the summer, when she would bring him to her house and then either drive him home later or get him an Uber, according to the warrant. He told police that “it was a burden on him because he couldn’t tell anyone and he was scared because he didn’t know what she was capable of doing to him,” detectives wrote.
He also said she would sometimes give him a vape pen containing THC, the chemical compound in marijuana, which he claimed made him unable to move after smoking it — something he said he experienced specifically during the Popeye’s parking lot encounter.
When the boy would go to Silva’s house, he would have to crawl into the building to avoid being seen on her security cameras, he told police. She also gave him access to her credit cards, buying him clothes and sometimes paying for a rideshare driver to take him home after their visits, according to the warrant.
Silva was booked into East Baton Rouge Parish Prison earlier this month and later released on $225,000 bond. She had taught for 10 years at Northwestern Middle School. Zachary’s school district is ranked No. 1 in the state.
Silva’s arrest — and the two weeks authorities spent investigating beforehand — spurred tensions among Zachary officials and has revealed an unusual parting along racial lines in a community that has long prided itself in fostering harmony and diversity. Some black residents and leaders challenged the length of the investigation, arguing it would have proceeded more quickly if the allegations hadn’t involved a white teacher.
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Zachary Police Chief David McDavid disputed that claim. He said the boy’s mother found out about her son’s relationship with Silva on Jan. 22. The teenager’s phone was full of things for police to go through, which meant the investigation couldn’t be completed overnight: 52,000 pictures, 2,500 videos and 500 chats.