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article imageTeacher marries former student, avoids statutory rape conviction

By Arthur Weinreb     Jan 21, 2013 in Crime
Bolivia - Last month, two sexual offences were dropped against North Carolina teacher Leah Gayle Shipman, 42, after prosecutors learned she had married Johnny Ray Ison, the alleged victim.
The news of the marriage that led to the dropping of the charges was revealed by the Wilmington Star-News on Friday. According to the newspaper, Shipman had divorced her husband of almost 20 years on Jan. 19, 2011. Six days later, she married her former student who was then 17. As Ison was still a minor, his mother was required to give her written consent to the marriage.
Under North Carolina law, witnesses can only be forced to testify against their spouses in criminal court or grand jury proceedings in matters involving domestic violence, bigamy, trespassing on the other's property after a separation, and any criminal offence involving the minor child of either spouse.
Prosecutor Gina Esson is quoted in the New York Daily News as saying, "None of the statements used in this case would be admissible without the victim. The defendant has a Sixth Amendment right to confront witnesses against them."
In January 2009, Shipman, who taught at the Brunswick County Academy, was charged with one count of statutory rape and one count of taking indecent liberties with a minor, Ison, who was her 15-year-old student. She was also charged with resisting an officer. The latter charged stemmed from telephone calls and text messages she sent to Ison while he was being interviewed by police. As police had copies of the text messages, that charge could be proceeded with.
The Daily Mail reports Shipman appeared in court on Dec. 20 and pleaded guilty to the resisting charge. She was given a 30-day suspended jail sentence, placed on probation for one year and ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $345. The teacher, who had been suspended and then fired from her job at the Brunswick County Academy, was also required to surrender her teacher's license.
Ison, who is now 19, also appeared in court on the same day. He pleaded guilty to one count of felony break and enter and two counts of larceny. For these unrelated charges, he was place on probation for a period of 24 months.
Had the state been able to proceed with the statutory rape charge, Shipman would have faced a maximum of 15 years in prison upon conviction.
More about leah gayle shipman, Statutory rape, Sex abuse teachers, resisting police
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