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Teacher arrested in Mexico

Allegedly fled Neb. with boy, 13

Kelsey Peterson, 26, teaches math. Kelsey Peterson, 26, teaches math.

LEXINGTON, Neb. - A female teacher was in FBI custody yesterday as federal and local prosecutors sought to determine how they would handle charges alleging that she ran away with a 13-year-old boy, taking him across the border into Mexico.

Kelsey Peterson, 25, a sixth-grade math teacher and basketball coach at Lexington Middle School, was turned over to the FBI early yesterday after being arrested the night before in the border city of Mexicali.

The boy, Fernando Rodriguez, was reported to be in the care of relatives in Mexico, and his family in Nebraska was trying to contact him.

"I need to find out what's next," said the boy's aunt, Laura Rodriguez, who said she still had not talked to him about seven hours after learning he had been recovered.

Peterson and Fernando were apprehended by Mexican authorities without incident. Her car had been spotted crossing into Mexico on Tuesday.

"I'm really relieved, especially that the individuals are well and unharmed," Dawson County Attorney Elizabeth Waterman said.

It was not immediately clear where Peterson was being held. Customs and Border Protection spokesman Vincent Bond said Peterson was taken to the border station at Calexico, Calif., and positively identified through her fingerprints, then left the station with FBI agents.

An FBI spokeswoman did not immediately respond to a call seeking comment yesterday.

A judge issued an arrest warrant Monday charging Peterson with kidnapping, child abuse, and contributing to the delinquency of a minor.

Peterson also faces federal charges, filed Thursday, that include transporting a minor across state lines or a foreign border for sexual activity, US Attorney Joe Stecher said.

Stecher said he didn't intend to double-prosecute Peterson, and would work with Waterman to decide in which jurisdiction she would face charges.

Peterson and the boy fled after police began investigating whether the pair had an intimate relationship, authorities said.

Court documents showed authorities had recovered several e-mails and letters in which Peterson and the boy professed their affection for one another.

In letters, the boy called Peterson his "Baby Gurl" and said their relationship was "just not about the sex but that it was pretty good," according to the court documents.

The Associated Press generally does not identify people who may be victims of sex crimes, but the boy's name had been publicized as police searched for him.

Fernando Rodriguez was an eighth-grader at Lexington Middle School, but district Superintendent Todd Chessmore said Rodriguez had been in Peterson's sixth-grade math class. He said he placed Peterson on paid administrative leave on Oct. 25.

Peterson's car crossed into Mexico on Tuesday at San Ysidro Port of Entry, which separates San Diego and Tijuana, Mexico, Lexington police said.

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