Eric Gerdes, a 39-year-old former teacher from Indiana, was sentenced to four years in prison for sexually assaulting a 13-year-old student in his classroom.
According to WPTA-TV, Gerdes pleaded guilty to the charges in October and admitted to molesting the girl between 2011 and 2013 at Imagine Master Academy charter school.
Gerdes was charged with two counts of sexual misconduct with a minor, one count of child molesting, one count of vicarious sexual gratification, and one count of dissemination of matter harmful to minors, according to WANE-TV.
He ultimately accepted a guilty plea of one count of sexual misconduct with a minor.
Over the course of the past year alone, a handful of teachers have been arrested on similar charges, including 25-year-old substitute teacher Alexis Mercedes Boberg in Baltimore, Beulah High School teacher Kelsie Schmidt in North Dakota, Rancocas Valley Regional High School teacher Alexandra Reiner in New Jersey, and 50-year-old Florida substitute teacher Angela Jean Stanton in Florida. Additionally, Texas teachers Meredith Null and Edna Longoria were arrested on similar charges.
As for why the number of these incidents has seemingly increased, studies suggest that smartphones are the primary reason for the spike in illicit relationships, as it allows teachers to communicate with the minors without supervision.
According to a report from the Texas Education Association, smartphones make easy for teachers to privately text and talk with students and also make it possible for teachers and students to share explicit images.