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Wake ex-teacher pleads guilty to sex charge involving student

Posted June 18, 2008

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— A woman who taught at Sanderson High School and admitted to kissing and fondling a female student pleaded guilty Wednesday in Wake County Superior Court.

Raleigh police arrested Shannon Lynn Best, 28, in April on a charge of taking indecent liberties with a student by school personnel. She pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of misdemeanor attempted crime against nature and giving alcohol to a student.

"We wanted to make sure she pleaded to something that was on her record, so, if someone did a background check, it would be a red flag that it was something they needed to inquire about," Wake County Assistant District Attorney Jeff Cruden said.

In a search warrant, police said Best told investigators she had been involved with the 18-year-old student for about a month and also that she sent nude images of herself in text messages during a sleepover at her apartment in North Raleigh.

State statute provides no age of consent when the alleged suspect is a teacher and the alleged victim a student, even if the relationship is consensual.

Cruden said in court Wednesday that the student's mother found photos on her daughter's cell phone of her daughter drinking and kissing Best. The student told her mother they were a joke and that it was a dare.

Cruden said the student and her parents agreed to the plea deal so that the family, which has had a strained relationship, could begin to mend it.

"The victim, even though she shouldn't, feels some guilt about this," Cruden said. "This is a decision she made, also."

As part of the plea, Best received a 45-day suspended jail sentence and 18 months' unsupervised probation, and she must pay a $250 fine and court costs. In addition, she cannot have any contact with the victim nor be around minors without supervision. She will not have to register as a sex offender.

Best's defense attorney, Lee Turner, said his client, who resigned from the Wake County Public School System in April after nearly four years of teaching at Sanderson, knows what she did was improper and irresponsible and that she is devastated by what she did.

Turner said she comes from a family of teachers in Kinston and that he has received e-mails and letters from colleagues and parents about how she was a motivational teacher who inspired children who did not want to be in school.

She is now working at a restaurant in Sampson County, where she grew up, but hopes to get back to teaching someday, he said.

"Her whole life was planned around being a teacher, and apparently, she was a very good teacher from all I've learned," Turner said. "Hopefully, somewhere, someone down the line will give her an opportunity again."


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  • Pharmboy Jun 19, 2008

    She doesn't look half bad, the teacher ;)

    Should a professor have a relationship with a student, since they are both adults? How about a student not in their class, but the student is 18 and the prof older? As a teacher, there is too much power and control over a student, that can be abused.

  • john60 Jun 19, 2008

    The issue isn't the girl's age; it's the relationship of TEACHER using that position to get sexual favors from one of the STUDENTS. That's what the law says; teachers don't have sex with the students, PERIOD.

  • lauraleigh Jun 18, 2008

    Patriot and "Real deal" -
    The college settings I know best have ethics rules that prohibit fraternization of faculty with students. It's a good rule.

  • iamforjustice Jun 18, 2008

    This female "teacher" is 10 years older than the female "student", and you don't see a problem here?

    I think I see a whole lots of problems!
    r u crazy too
    GOLO member since August 23, 2007
    June 18, 2008 12:29 p.m.
    Report abuse
    Age is just a number and there is no problem at all.

  • rogerkneebend Jun 18, 2008

    seankelly, I have friends who, after realizing that crying would get them nowhere, were glad their parents intervened. Take Barbara Eden for instance, she regretted she didn't investigate more into her son's life before he overdosed on drugs.

  • coolwill Jun 18, 2008

    “State statute allows no age of consent when the suspect is a teacher and the alleged victim a student, even if it is consensual”. This is a law that needs to be change, by the way he can join the military at 18, he can have a checking account at 18, and he can go to Iraq at 18. a dumb law I wonder is against the law for them to get married also. The only thing he can not do at 18 in North Carolina is drink; he can go to other states with a North Carolina driver’s license and get drunk. What a stupid law. If he can go and fight for his country at the age of 18, go get bent. I know if he or she at the age of 18 join the military he is no longer in school, so don’t go there.

  • seankelly15 Jun 18, 2008

    rogerkneebend - What an incredibly enlightened response. I know many friends who were given the same 'load' and once they moved out never looked back and they never went back for visits or further contact. You can place rules on adult children living in your home, but you never have the right to snoop and you cease to have any right to interfere in your adult child's relationships.

  • seankelly15 Jun 18, 2008

    Concerned - The law was written because of cases where there was a consenting relationship between a young student and a teacher and the parents felt it was the school's responsibility to monitor their daughter. The most noteworthy case was where a teacher was involved with a 15-year-old. The teacher resigned and the parents consented to their marriage. When the parents tried to sue the school board there was no basis for the suit because no law was broken. You will find that the statute is so broad that a 30-year-old woman who becomes involved with a teacher that the woman had in High School can lead to a prosecution of the teacher because there was a student-teacher relationship at one time.

  • voiceofreason32 Jun 18, 2008

    Ok, as to the student being 18 and all the comments about the law needing to be changed. You do not know how long this teacher knew the student. It is just like the track coach who married the 16 year old. These teachers are mentors and have alot of influence over a young person. She may have known this girl since she was 13,14,15, whatever. During this time she conditioned her to respond to her control. That is the issue and that is why the law is the way it is. 16 is the age of consent in NC. However, think of the interaction that a teacher or coach has with a child before they turn 16. They could be conditioning this child to respond to their commands for years. IF you don't think that is going on, then you are living in a fantasy world. That is why the law needs to be enforced, to keep these PREDATORS, thats what they are, away from children.

  • GetaLIFE Jun 18, 2008

    Concerned, you are correct, no matter how old or young the teacher may be the law says no teacher/student relations. In college I am sure most colleges probably have the same rule but I am sure each college has a certain spin on it. The fact that it was 2 women has nothing to do with it. The fact about what Cali. did recently with gay marriage has no merit for this story no matter what your preference is. Some of the posts on here are so ignorant I don't know where to start. But everyone has their opinion no matter how childish or ignorant it may be.