Smithfield, N.C. — A former wrestling coach accused of sexual misconduct with a 16-year-old student at the Johnston County high school where he taught pleaded guilty Monday to contributing to the delinquency of a minor.
James Joseph McNamara II was arrested in March 2012 on a felony charge of taking indecent liberties with a minor after the student said McNamara, 25 at the time, drove her home and then touched and kissed her inside her house.
McNamara, who was also a history teacher at Corinth Holders High School in Wendell, was sentenced to a year of unsupervised probation, was ordered to surrender his North Carolina teaching certificate and prohibited from being alone with anyone under the age of 18 during his probation.
Johnston County Assistant District Attorney Kelly Sandling said Monday that the state's evidence would have supported the victim's accusations.
"The Johnston County District Attorney's Office is committed to the safety of our students and will ensure their safety even if the perpetrators are the people employed to educate them," she said in a statement.
Students and parents backed McNamara, who was hired by Johnston County Schools in August 2010, saying his reputation as a coach and educator was tarnished and that he was incapable of the behavior described by his accuser.
During a hearing last May, the teen admitted to having a crush on the teacher and said she drank vodka at the time of their alleged encounter to calm her nerves.
McNamara resigned from his teaching job in June 2012.