Teacher Who Faced Statutory Rape Charges for Sleeping with Student Fends Off Trial by Marrying Him

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.

"None of the statements made in this case would be admissible without the victim," Brunswick County Assistant District Attorney Gina Essey told the StarNews of Wilmington.

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.

[H/T: Philip DeFranco, mug shot via handout]