SW Washington Teacher in Court on Charges Related to Sexually Explicit Messages

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Becca Robbins / The Columbian

Prosecutors say a Mountain View High School teacher accused of sending sexually explicit text messages to a 17-year-old student had also expressed potential interest in another student.

Shelley R. Leatherwood, 45, appeared Friday in Clark County Superior Court on suspicion of felony communicating with a minor for immoral purposes. Deputy Prosecutor Kelly Ryan also requested the judge find probable cause for an allegation of first-degree attempted sexual misconduct with a minor. He said it’s the statute for when a teacher attempts to engage in sexual intercourse with a student.

Judge David Gregerson granted the request and set Leatherwood’s bail at $20,000. She is scheduled to be arraigned Jan. 13.

Leatherwood’s retained attorney, Jeff Riback, said her family would be able to bail her out. Leatherwood is not to have contact with the school or anywhere minors are known to congregate.

Evergreen Public Schools says Leatherwood is on administrative leave, but Riback said Friday she has been fired from her teaching job and “essentially trespassed” by the district. According to Mountain View’s directory, Leatherwood is in the career and technical education department, teaching animal sciences. The district said she was hired in September 2018.

School officials contacted the Vancouver Police Department on Tuesday after the 17-year-old student reported that a teacher engaged in a sexual conversation with him over text and sent him a nude photo, according to a probable cause affidavit.

The student told detectives Leatherwood had been giving him “hints” that she may be romantically interested in him through her body language. He said she gave him her cellphone number on a sticky note in early December. He said she told him, “I know you haven’t texted me, but if anyone found out I could be fired,” according to the affidavit.

He said he texted Leatherwood on Dec. 25 and wished her a merry Christmas. After chatting, the student said the conversation became sexual, leading up to Leatherwood sending him a nude photo, court records state.

The student also told detectives he thought Leatherwood liked another 17-year-old student, but Leatherwood told him she wouldn’t pursue the other student because that student had a girlfriend, according to the affidavit.

Detectives observed the text exchange, which court records show included detailed sexual messages and plans to meet. In one of the messages, Leatherwood acknowledged the student was 17 and later said, “OK as long as nobody knows.” In another message, Leatherwood writes, “I probably should go to jail about how I feel about you!” the affidavit reads.

After she sent the nude photo, court records state Leatherwood texted, “I can’t believe I sent that! It’s a mistake.” Leatherwood’s face was partially visible in the photo, and the cellphone number the texts came from matched Leatherwood’s school district records, according to the affidavit.

At about 11 a.m. Thursday, detectives served a search warrant at Leatherwood’s house and arrested her, the affidavit states.

Mountain View High School Principal Charles Anthony sent a letter home to parents Thursday, alerting them of the arrest.

Police said Thursday they are continuing to investigate and are asking any victims who may not have come forward to contact Detective Robert Givens at [email protected] or Sgt. Julie Ballou at [email protected].

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