Posted on Wed, Apr. 05, 2006 

Cops: Teacher allegedly had sex 28 times with 13-year-old

By GLORIA CAMPISI 215-854-5935

TEACHER RACHEL HOLT tried so hard to get close to her students, she even picked up their slang, one parent said.

Yet somewhere along the way, Holt got too close, and became a sexual predator, according to police.

Holt, 34, a homeroom and science teacher at Claymont Elementary School in Claymont, Del., was arrested yesterday for having sex with a 13-year-old student 28 times over eight days in March, New Castle County police said.

At least once, Holt allegedly let the boy's 12-year-old friend watch, said Lt. Col. Scott McLaren, acting New Castle County chief of police.

Holt also is accused of providing the boys with alcohol, taking the 13-year-old out to dinner and once allowing him to drive her car.

The victim, a sixth-grader, was a student in Holt's class, police said.

Holt was charged yesterday with 28 counts of rape and with providing alcohol to a minor. The incidents allegedly occurred between March 24 and 31.

Parent Melanie Mask described herself and other Claymont Elementary parents as "horrified" by the news of Holt's arrest.

Claymont Elementary is part of the Brandywine School District, which recently staged sessions to teach students and parents how to avoid sexual predators on the Internet, Mask said.

Now, ironically, a pedophile allegedly has surfaced at their school, Mask said.

Despite highly publicized cases of female teachers like Mary Kay Letourneau of Seattle, and blond beauty Debra Lafave of Florida preying on young male students, "No one thinks they would come across a pedophile" in their own midst, Mask said.

Mask has a daughter in sixth grade, but she was not in Holt's class.

Mask said Holt, who is single and has taught at Claymont Elementary for about three years, "tried to fit in with the students."

"She was kind of loud. She tried to be their friend. She knew their colloquialisms," and used them, Mask said. "She tried to be on their level."

Police said the 13-year-old appeared to be the only victim.

Holt also taught in another school in the district in 2002, according to Robert Ziegler, public- information officer for the district.

Police began investigating Monday, after the victim's father became suspicious of "what he described as an inappropriate relationship he believed his son was having with his schoolteacher," McLaren said.

"He also indicated his son had lied to him about staying at a relative's home while he stayed overnight at Holt's residence in March."

Ziegler said counselors have been brought into the school and would remain to help students cope. A letter from the school principal also was sent home, informing parents what had happened.

Mask said parents and teachers had tried to keep things "as normal as possible" for students yesterday, despite the presence of TV news vans and a helicopter circling overhead.

"Our fourth- and fifth-graders are so young," said Mask. "But our sixth-graders are becoming aware."

Despite Holt's alleged actions, Mask called the rest of the school's teachers "wonderful."

Holt was being held at the Delaware Women's Correctional Institution after failing to post more than $500,000 cash bail, police said.