A North Carolina law prohibiting the state from compelling the spouse of a defendant to testify against their significant other has helped a former teacher escape statutory rape charges for sleeping with her student.
42-year-old Leah Gayle Shipman was arrested in Janurary 2009 for allegedly having sex with then-15-year-old Johnnie Ray Ison.
In addition to statutory rape, Shipman was also charged with sexual offense with a student and taking indecent liberties with a student.
She subsequently lost her job, but gained a husband.
Five days after ending her 19-year marriage in January 2011, Shipman sought and received the permission of Johnnie Ray's mom to marry her son. (Shipman needed a parent's signature because Johnnie Ray was still a minor at the time.)
Last month, when it came time to move the charges along, prosecutors realized they no longer had a viable case.
But the state didn't leave court empty handed: Shipman received a 30-day suspended jail sentence and 12 months probation after pleading guilty to a misdemeanor charge of resisting a public officer over texts she sent Johnnie Ray while he was being interrogated.
"The police witnessed the texts, and we were able to get them from the phone," Essey said.