|Charges filed against teacher
Police say she had improper relationship with student
|Faith Huffman | News-Telegram News Editor|
Oct. 30, 2004 -- A Sulphur Springs High School math teacher accused by her student aide's parents of engaging in an improper sexual relationship with their daughter was arrested Friday evening on a felony warrant stemming from the charge.
Shelly K. Shaw turned herself in to Sulphur Springs Police Sgt. Kim Simpson at Hopkins County Sheriff's Office just after 7 p.m. Friday. A second-degree felony warrant had been issued earlier in the day by Precinct 1 Justice of the Peace Yvonne King, charging Shaw with "improper relationship between educator and student," a law enacted in September 2003.
The 28-year-old teacher was said to have been involved in a sexual relationship with the 17-year-old student beginning in July 2004 and continuing until recently, when the girl's parents found written and e-mail correspondence between Shaw and their daughter which suggested an improper relationship between the pair, according to Assistant District Attorney Martin Braddy.
The girl's parents then contacted Sulphur Springs Police Department on Saturday, Oct. 23. School officials were also notified, and an investigation launched by both entities, SSPD Assistant Chief Robert Stidham said.
Shaw was placed on temporary paid suspension early Monday morning by school officials, while the officials began their investigation by speaking to the parties involved and witnesses.
"The Sulphur Springs Independent School District officials have cooperated fully in this investigation and should be commended for the way they have handled this situation," Braddy said.
"All the agencies, the school district, the DA's office, police department, all cooperated fully with one another, and the matter has now been turned over to the DA's office," Stidham said shortly after the warrant was issued Friday.
During an interview with Stidham, the student confirmed the allegation that the teacher "had made sexual contact with her on numerous occasions during the 2004 school year," Braddy said. "The parents contacted the police department and the school, then the school contacted us as well, as they are required to do.
"The victim was clearly reluctant to talk about their relationship," Braddy added. "However, she provided enough specifics for us to determine that the offenses took place, and the general period of time for the commission of this offense."
"The best we can tell, about eight months ago their friendship started," Stidham said. "They began a relationship three months ago. The victim is a student at the high school, but not a student in her [Shaw's] class."
Friday morning, before officials had an opportunity to collectively conclude their investigation and begin the process of securing a warrant, Shaw officially handed in her letter of resignation, which became effective immediately.
The warrant was issued at about 5 p.m. Friday, and Shaw turned herself in at the sheriff's office just after 7 p.m. She remained in the county jail in lieu of $50,000 bond on the second-degree felony charge at 11 a.m. Saturday.
If convicted, Shaw faces two years to 20 years in prison and could face a fine up to $10,000. However, since she has no previous record of felony convictions, the law states that she could be allowed to serve out the length of any sentence assessed on probation. Since the crime does not fall under the sex crimes section of the Texas Penal Code, she would not be required to register as a sex offender.
"At this point, based on the information obtained in the investigation, we don't have any indication that she has engaged in any other incident with other students," Braddy said Saturday morning. "If we find out there are others or there were problems in the past at other schools, we will pursue that at that time. However, I think we we have here is a situation of a girl who is smart and mature for her age involved in a relationship [with Shaw] that was described 'as best friends,' which we think turned into something more."
Braddy also said that after speaking with the defendant's husband, officials determined that he not only had no role in the sexual relationship, but was unaware of it until the allegations were brought forth.