A kindergarten teacher and pastor’s wife at a private Christian school near Chicago—who purportedly used to lecture female students about dressing modestly—now stands accused of sexually assaulting students and seeking nude photos from them.
Shannon Griffin, a 49-year-old teacher at Jordan Baptist School, has been charged with solicitation of child pornography, distribution of harmful materials, grooming, and five counts of criminal sexual assault, Cook County Sheriff Thomas J. Dart announced on Tuesday.
Griffin was allegedly engaging in such conduct from 2013 through March 2019 and sent nude photos and videos of herself to two boys at the school and asked them to send photos of themselves back to her, a spokesperson for the sheriff’s office told The Daily Beast.
Jordan Baptist offers classes for pre-kindergarten through high-school students in Burbank, Illinois. Officials did not say how old the victims were.
Police records obtained by The Chicago Tribune allege that the Griffin’s husband—the school pastor—and the principal were both made aware of the inappropriate videos and images during the course of the investigation.
Former student Yhaneera Aparicio-Armas, who graduated from the high school in 2014, told ABC Chicago that Griffin routinely admonished girls for dressing immodestly.
“She would write me up and other girls and, like, how ironic that you’re telling us how to dress, us how to be modest, and be Christian women, and you turn around doing the exact opposite,” said Aparicio-Aramas, referencing the inappropriate videos of Griffin.
Parent Mike Mollo told CBS Chicago that his kids showed him videos of Griffin that had apparently been circulated by students.
“The second I saw that video, the very next day, I pulled my kids out at school, and we stopped going to church there immediately,” he told the news station. “I called the pastor, and I said, ‘You better get in front of this. All these kids are passing videos around of your wife.’ And he said, ‘It’s not my wife. It’s not her. We’re just going to pray about it. Let the Lord take care of it.’”
“You pay that kind of money to send your kids where you can trust these people, and they go and do this,” he added. “Betrayed is an understatement. Violated. Angry.”
A spokesperson for the sheriff’s office said he could not release more details about the case but that no further victims had come forward since his department announced the charges on Tuesday.
“I’m glad that they’ve finally decided to do something about this so it doesn’t happen to other children,” Sandy Cabrera, whose daughters previously attended the school, told the Tribune. “You pay tuition to put your kids in private education... to protect them.”
“When you're a teacher you’re looked up, and what has taken place here is devastating to me as a parent,” Cook County First Deputy Chief Marlon Parks told ABC Chicago. “When I drop my kids off at school I expect a certain type of result, and this is not the result that these parents or these family members ever could think of.”
The school did not respond to requests for comment from The Daily Beast. Griffin is expected to appear in court on Wednesday.