GASTON COUNTY, N.C. — A mother opened up to Channel 9 after she said the assistant principal at her son's high school preyed on him for sex.
"I feel betrayed by somebody that I gave my child to because I wanted so bad for him to succeed," she said.
Stuart W. Cramer High School Assistant Principal Lisa Rothwell is facing six felony sex crime charges after police said she confessed to having sex with a 17-year-old student.
That student's mom reached out to Channel 9 to share the pain she feels after she said Rothwell took advantage of her son at one of his most vulnerable moments.
Channel 9's Gaston County bureau reporter Ken Lemon learned Rothwell helped tutor her son.
She said he was making great strides and that Rothwell even told her she practiced saying her son's name for the moment he crossed the stage to get his diploma.
She said at first, Rothwell, who is known for connecting with students, did something no one else could -- helped get her son interested in school again.
Then, the mother said she got a phone call from the school saying Rothwell was doing much more than tutoring her child.
(Rothwell mug shot and staff photo from Gaston County Schools)
"You have these people here that you think are there for your child to protect your child and come to find out there are preying on your child and it's hard on a mother," she said.
She told Channel 9 at some point, Rothwell started texting her son outside of school work and things became sexual.
"It's the worst feeling that I have ever had," she said. "It's hard to feel like somebody that you really trusted betrayed you."
She said she later learned the assistant principal gave her son gifts and a promise that "when he became of age that they could be together, and she would take care of him."
She told Lemon her son bore the weight of a secret no 17-year-old should live with -- feeling pressure in a place where he should feel safe.
"He was working towards something and felt like for once people believed that it mattered and I feel like he lost the innocence of being a teenager," she said.
Things started to spiral out of control when the mother said Rothwell started acting like a controlling girlfriend, monitoring who her son talked to and what he did.
According to police, one day a classmate posted a vague tweet about an assistant principal getting too close to students and that's when investigators started questioning the teen.
After getting the call about her son, the mother said she went to the school and when she looked her son in the eyes, she told Channel 9 she knew it was true.
"He has got this look of heartbreak on his face," she said. "I knew at that point and time that what I had been told. It was just devastation."
The mother said the situation has been traumatic for her son, and that he is struggling to return to the normal life he had before Rothwell began texting him.
"There are moments where he is angry," she said. "There are moments where he is confused. Don't quite know how to separate things."
(Rothwell being booked into the Gaston County jail)
She said she chose to speak out about what happened to her child because she's heard people say boys aren't considered victims in these types of situations.
"This case is being portrayed as he is not a victim and that this is really not that bad because she did so good," the mother said. "All the good doesn't erase the bad."
She said her son worries that the administrator who has changed the lives of students and was respected by so many parents will overshadow him, isolating him with the pain he now feels.
"Some even portrayed her as the victim and not him," she said. "You have to wonder, would you feel the same way if it was your child? If it was your son?"
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At one point, the mother said she was just like the other supporters, but that doesn't excuse the allegations against Rothwell.
"I'm so grateful that she helped so many people, but what had to make mine so different? Where was the help for mine?" the mother said. "For all the good is it OK to sacrifice this child?"
According to the mother, the last time she talked to Rothwell was a week before she was arrested, and they were planning a celebration for her son's graduation together.
"It was all a lie," she said. "I will never trust her again around my child."
Rothwell was being jailed under a $1 million bond, but a judge lowered the bond to $100,000, and she bonded out.
She has been suspended with pay by the school district.
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