A mother of two boys who received sexually explicit videos from a Kennewick teacher said she doesn’t know how to protect her kids if they’re not safe at school.
The woman, facing Tonie Ann Reiboldt in court Wednesday, said the younger of the two boys “experienced something that he wasn’t supposed to experience” when the teacher went beyond the pictures and videos and raped him.
“As a parent you tell your kids, ‘Be open. You’re supposed to be open. You’re supposed to trust your teachers. Your teachers are there for help,’ ” the mother said while choking back tears. “And I can’t even say that anymore, because their teacher hurt them.”
Reiboldt, 44, sobbed and nodded her head along with the mother’s comments during the Benton County Superior Court hearing. She was a physical education teacher at Horse Heaven Hills Middle School when the allegations first came to light a year ago.
On Wednesday, she was ordered to serve 1 1/2 years in prison under a Special Sex Offender Sentencing Alternative. She will be required to get treatment while locked up.
The sentence includes a 3 1/2 -year suspended term. If she violates any of her conditions during that time, the deal will be revoked and she’ll be ordered to serve the rest of the sentence.
Judge Bruce Spanner said he initially found it difficult to reconcile a special sentencing request with a violation of a position of trust. He read both a presentencing report and a sex offender evaluation and agreed with the conclusion that Reiboldt is amenable to treatment.
“What I found in there is you were emotionally fragile at the time of these events, you have a low risk for re-offending and it appears to me that your remorse is genuine,” Spanner said.
He was persuaded to grant the special sentence because if Reiboldt is successful in sex offender treatment, then the public will be safe not only for the five years of her term, but after when she’s no longer on supervision, he said.
Reiboldt pleaded guilty in May to third-degree child rape and three felony counts of communicating with a minor for immoral purposes. Each count included the aggravating circumstance that she used her position of trust to commit the crime.
She had no criminal history. The standard range for the rape is five years.
Reiboldt caught the attention of Kennewick investigators in June 2016 after a sexually explicit video was sent to underage kids through the social media app Snapchat. Police then discovered the woman in the video was Reiboldt.
One of the teens who received the video said Reiboldt was his teacher, while other students said they knew of her at school. All four identified victims were under 16.
Reiboldt’s explicit communications with the boys lasted up to 10 months. She had asked them to send her their own nude pictures, court documents said.
She also tried to meet up with at least two of them to have sex. One teen refused and another teen said he made up an excuse to get out of it as Reiboldt waited at a park near his home, documents said.
Reiboldt used her own son’s Snapchat account to get the contact information of his friend, a reported victim.
It wasn’t until a follow-up interview with police and prosecutors in January that one of the teens disclosed more details about his contact with Reiboldt and said they had sex, documents said.
The mother of the two boys said she had conversations with Reiboldt while all this was happening, and didn’t know a thing.
Her sons are like most teens and they don’t always share everything with their parents, but they’re strong and will do well in the future, she added.
“I really hope you get the help that you need so you don’t hurt anybody else’s kids, because what would you have done if something happened to your kids?” the mother said. “I just pray for you and hope that you get better, and you accept what’s given to you.”
Reiboldt got divorced while her case was pending and has been limited to supervised visits with her own two sons. She was living with her father in Spokane until she was taken into custody after her guilty plea.
“I want to say that I’ll forever be sorry for the pain and the disappointment I caused the victims and their families, my family and friends, and my students who looked up to me,” Reiboldt said Wednesday.
“I’ve always tried to lead my life as a leader with a kind heart. . I failed, and I’m so ashamed and embarrassed of my actions and I take full responsibility for my wicked ways.”
Reiboldt said she wishes there was more she could do to make it right for the victims. She has welcomed Jesus into her life and been going to counseling for the past year, and looks forward to further treatment that will help her figure out why she preyed on the students.
“Before my dad passed away last month, I promised him that I would stay strong and that I would face my consequences one day at a time,” she said. “My heart hurts for the pain I caused. . I will forever be sorry, but I will continue to pray for forgiveness.”
Reiboldt had been with the Kennewick School District since 1997. Her jobs included working as a substitute teacher, the head gymnastics coach at Southridge High, and a math teacher, assistant track coach, assistant volleyball coach and assistant dance coach at Horse Heaven Hills.
She resigned in July 2016.
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