A former Gering teacher has been arrested on charges after he allegedly contacted a 16-year-old student via social media about having an illicit relationship with her.

Zachary Boness, 31, of Gering, has been charged with child enticement by electronic communication device, a Class ID felony; possession of child pornography, a Class IIA felony; and debauching a minor, a Class I misdemeanor.

According to an arrest affidavit, the Nebraska State Patrol began investigating after a 16-year-old student reported having been contacted by Boness, then a teacher at Gering High Schoool, requesting a “sexting relationship.”

Authorities interviewed the student at CAPstone Child Advocacy Center and she disclosed she had received a Snapchat from a person using a pseudonym. Over the course of two days, the person provided hints about his actual identity and that they were a teacher. The girl also knew Boness personally, identifying him as a family friend.

In the chats, the girl told an investigator Boness asked if she wanted to sext and the person described “that he wanted to ‘do things’ with her and asked if she was down to ‘do things’ with him.” The girl believed those items to only mean sexual acts and that the person who had contacted her did not clarify that those things would not be sexual.

On Oct. 26, the girl confronted the person via chat and explained she knew that it was Bonness, according to the arrest affidavit. She told him that she was uncomfortable and he asked her not to tell anyone about the conversation and that he had a “‘momentary lapse’ in judgment.”

On Oct. 30, the Nebraska State Patrol contacted Boness and conducted an interview.

In a statement on Nov. 4, Gering Public Schools authorities acknowledged that a Gering Junior High School staff member had resigned following accusations of inappropriate communications with a high school student. Boness also coached at Gering High School.

The school district did not identify Boness and the Star-Herald did not identify Boness as charges had not yet been filed. In the statement, Gering Superintendent Bob Hastings said that it had investigated the allegations and as required by law, it had reported the matter to law enforcement.

Charges against Boness were filed on Wednesday, Jan. 22, and a warrant was issued for his arrest. Court records indicate that Boness was taken into custody Wednesday morning.

Boness has been released from jail after posting a $20,000 bond. 

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