Columbia teacher accused of kidnapping child while working as Uber driver, lawsuit says

The teacher told deputies she thought the mother was in the car with the child.
Updated: May. 27, 2021 at 5:29 PM EDT
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - A teacher in Richland School District Two faces criminal charges and a civil lawsuit which accuses her of kidnapping and assaulting a child while working as an Uber driver in Columbia.

The woman facing charges, Gina Kessee, 58, of Columbia, was a teacher at Blythewood Academy, the district confirmed.

A new lawsuit filed by a “Mother Doe” in Richland County on May 24 is bringing Kessee’s case to light.

The lawsuit says the mother, who is not using her name in court documents, called an Uber for herself and two of her minor daughters on Oct. 17, 2020.

An incident report from the Richland County Sheriff’s Department said this happened that day around 5 p.m. as the mother was trying to take her children to Chuck E. Cheese.

When the mother put one of her daughters into a car seat in Kessee’s backseat, the lawsuit claims Kessee drove away with the child.

The mother tried to open the door, but it was locked, the lawsuit said. She ran after the car but could not catch up with it, so she called 911.

It’s not immediately clear where deputies found Kessee, but she was found a short time later with the child and the victim’s purse in her vehicle.

“The child was checked out by EMS and cleared,” the RCSD report states.

Kessee told deputies the mother put her daughter in the car then went back into the house after her purse. She said she waited for her to come back.

When the mother came back, Kessee said the mother closed the car door.

Kessee told deputies she thought the mother was in the vehicle, but she did not look back to check until she got to Chuck E. Cheese. At that point, Kessee said she “tried to bring the child back.”

Deputies cleared the scene around 7 p.m. that night.

Court records show Kessee was arrested the next day, on Oct. 18, and charged with kidnapping, a felony. She bonded out of jail on a $10,000 personal recognizance bond.

Her criminal case is ongoing.

Uber would not help deputies trying to track down Kessee’s vehicle, according to the lawsuit. Uber is named as a defendant and being sued for damages.

The lawsuit claims Kessee not only kidnapped the child, but physically assaulted her and spoke to the victim using “profane language.”

Mother Doe is suing Uber and Kessee for damages to cover her and her daughters’ “psychological and psychiatric medical care and treatment” due to the experience, the lawsuit says.

Richland Two confirmed Kessee taught at Blythewood Academy, but was immediately put on administrative leave after her arrest in October 2020.

She remains on administrative leave -- which means she “has not been on school or District grounds and has had no contact with students or staff,” a district official said.

The district said Kessee will no longer be employed by R2 at the end of the school year.

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