A Lee’s Summit North High School assistant soccer coach and paraprofessional has been placed on leave following allegations of inappropriate conduct.
Jessica ‘Jessie’ Rae Rathbun is accused of sending sexual messages and photographs to a teenage boy.
She is an assistant soccer coach for both the boys and girls soccer programs at Lee’s Summit North, though her name has now been removed as a coach on the Missouri State High School Activities Association website. The girls soccer team is currently 15 games into the season but she’s been on leave since early March.
The Jackson County Prosecutor's Office has received the report from the Lee's Summit Police Department and the information is under review.
However, there have not been any charges filed against Rathbun, who was born in 1988. The only online court information under her name was a divorce in 2019.
Danny Thomas, an attorney with Humphrey, Farrington & McClain law office in Independence, is representing the victim.
Thomas said an investigation led by the Missouri Department of Social Services showed Rathbun engaging in inappropriate conduct over Snapchat. The investigation ran from March 3 through April 16, according to the attorney.
“If it was a male (coach) it would be much more of a visceral reaction,” Thomas said. “There is a double standard there. If this was a male coach sending photos of himself undressed or in underwear or genitalia to a 16-year-old girl, the town would be carrying pitchforks and torches. There is a different response when a woman engaging in this activity with a teenage boy. It is a problem and it is a crime either way. And the trauma the victims have to deal with it. It is a real double standard view in these cases in our society.”
Rathbun has been a youth soccer coach for Puma FC, academy director at KC Prime Soccer Club and director at KC Scott Gallagher Soccer. She’s also worked for Milestone Academy, which is in Kansas City.
The Lee’s Summit resident has worked for the district since 2014.
A statement issued by Katy Bergen, the Lee’s Summit R-7 School District spokesperson said information was brought forth to the district, which led to the investigation.
“Lee’s Summit R-7 Schools’ main priority is the safety and well-being of our students. Any and all allegations received by the district are taken seriously and investigated in accordance with district policies and procedures. These policies require us to follow the Title IX regulations adopted last year by the U.S. Department of Education. The district must ensure that the process spelled out by those regulations is completed or waived before it takes further action."
Thomas noted he knows for a fact that Rathbun was messaging other teenage boys and knows of at least one of other boy that received inappropriate images from the paraprofessional.
Thomas believes it is just a matter of other victims coming forward.
“I know there are more victims but the problem is the district did its own investigation before calling the police… that was ill advised,” Thomas said. “I think the school was very heavy handed to the kids and it has a chilling effect on people’s willingness to speak out. We are trying to find witnesses. I know some witnesses have been willing and some haven’t, but we are trying to find more witnesses to talk.”
The DSS report alleges that Rathbun told the 16-year-old boy she would have sex with him after he graduated — a statement she denied in the report.
A redacted copy of the DSS investigation says the boy was able to identify tattoos on Rathbun’s rib cage and hip. The investigation also alleges Rathbun was heard saying the boy could have sex with her and she thought he was ‘hot’ and ‘cute,’ according to reports.
She also allegedly asked for the victim to send photos of himself to her.
In the report, Rathbun initially denied sending the messages to the victim but later stated if she sent a photo of herself in bra and underwear, it was done accidentally.
“There are more victims, it is just a matter of getting them to understand they can come forward,” Thomas said. “We can keep your identity confidential and protected and if they need help, get them the help they need.”