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Published: Sunday, July 16, 2017 @ 9:03 AM
GWINNETT COUNTY, Ga. — Therese Gunn admitted Friday that she’d had a sexual relationship with one of her students. The 54-year-old, now-former orchestra teacher in Gwinnett County, Georgia, said she couldn’t believe she’d done it, and that she’d made a poor decision, and that she was sorry.
She then changed course, however briefly, and blamed her victim – claiming the then-17-year-old boy had coerced her into the relationship that developed at South Gwinnett High School.
“He did,” Gunn said in front of Judge Warren Davis. “He was like a used car salesman.”
Davis didn’t care for that argument, nor did prosecutor Karen West. And after Gunn entered her guilty plea to a single count of sexual assault by a person with supervisory authority, the judge sentenced her to serve 90 days in prison.
The remainder of her 10-year sentence will be spent on probation.
“I don’t find that you're the kind of person that needs to be warehoused for years,” Davis said. “We get those cases and we get them out of society as long as we can. You're not one of those. But you clearly betrayed the trust that you had of parents, this parent, putting this child in your care.”
Gunn, who worked as a teacher for 25 years and had been at South Gwinnett since 2002, was arrested in May 2016. At the time, police said she had held a relationship with the student, whom she taught for three years, for several months. Sexual activity allegedly "occurred at the school, at the teacher's [Loganville-area] residence and at Lenora Park.”
The relationship came to light after the student's mother found his journal and reported the relationship to police.
Under Georgia law, sexual contact between anyone with supervisory or disciplinary authority – such as a law enforcement officer, teacher or psychiatrist – and a person under their care is illegal, even if it’s consensual.
Gunn was the fourth Gwinnett teacher arrested on sex-related charges during the 2015-16 school year. Since then, three more Gwinnett County Public Schools teachers have arrested on similar charges, including former University of Georgia football player Mikey Henderson.
Another teacher who worked at the private Providence Christian Academy in Lilburn was also arrested earlier this year.
In their initial press release regarding Gunn’s case, Gwinnett County police said they had "discovered that the teacher hosted a party at her home in Grayson.”
“During the party, the teacher allowed the 17-year-old and two other female students to smoke marijuana under her direct supervision,” police wrote. “According to the detective, the teacher smoked marijuana, as well."
Gunn was initially charged with multiple counts of contributing to the delinquency of a minor, but was not indicted on those charges.
Published: Friday, May 25, 2018 @ 7:53 PM
Updated: Friday, May 25, 2018 @ 11:51 PM
COLUMBUS — UPDATE @ 11:50 p.m.: The alert for the 79-year-old Columbus man has been canceled.
An Endangered Missing Adult Alert has been issued for a Columbus man.
Stanley Lapcynski, 79, suffers from dementia and was last seen around noon Friday when he left his residence but did not return.
He stands 5 feet 6 inches and weighs 190 pounds with brown hair and blue eyes. He was last seen wearing a Home Depot shirt and blue jeans.
He is believed to be driving a dark green 2001 Chevrolet Aveo with Ohio plate FFW4599.
Published: Friday, May 25, 2018 @ 4:27 PM
MIDDLETOWN — A Middletown woman pleaded no contest to a lesser degree arson charge Friday afternoon in Middletown Municipal Court.
Last week, Georgia Osborne, 35, was charged with arson, a fourth-degree felony, after she started a fire in her jail cell around 7 a.m. May 17. She used a lighter to catch a blanket on fire while she sat on the concrete floor, according to the police report. She sneaked the lighter into the jail, the report said.
Osborne, represented by attorney James Calhoun, pleaded no contest to arson and criminal trespass and was sentenced to 180 days in jail with credit for eight days served.
Middletown Municipal Court Judge James Sherron initially said he would release Osborne on probation if she met with representatives from Access Counseling, provide a negative drug screen when she returns to court in two weeks, and not be charged with additional crimes.
But after meeting with Calhoun, the city prosecutor and a representative from Access Counseling, Sherron changed his mind. The judge revoked Osborne’s probation and sent her back to jail.
After reviewing Osborne’s criminal history on his computer, Sherron noted that in 17 years, she had 53 cases in Middletown court.
“Is that something to be proud of?” Sherron asked her.
“It’s embarrassing,” Osborne said, burying her face in her right hand.
Osborne said she has a 4-month-old son and she had hoped to live with her mother, who was at the court hearing.
Published: Friday, May 25, 2018 @ 2:44 PM
Updated: Friday, May 25, 2018 @ 2:56 PM
OAKWOOD — Oakwood school officials released details of its investigation into a threat made on social media to the school.
A concerned parent said a one-call alert was made from Principal Paul Waller, who said an Oakwood student posted a threat on social media but had removed the threat. Details of the threat were not made available.
The school district issued the following statement regarding the incident.
“On Friday, May 25, Oakwood High School administrators were made aware of a possible threat of violence at the school that had been sent via Snapchat by an OHS student. Upon learning of the threat, administrators immediately reported this communication to the Oakwood Safety Department, and officers were sent to the school.
“Police investigated and determined it was not a credible threat. No weapons were found. The student who sent the message was taken into custody by OSD. The case will be referred to the Montgomery County Juvenile Prosecutor’s Office for potential charges.”
As part of the schools’ safety plan, students are taught if they see or hear something to say something, officials said. “Students followed that example today and reported the message to administrators,” the statement said, allowing the district and police to intervene.
“We understand situations such as this are concerning to parents, students and the Oakwood community. Oakwood Schools safety procedures, which have been put in place in the best interest of our students and staff, were followed. All are safe and classes have continued in session as normal.”
Published: Friday, May 25, 2018 @ 2:46 PM
BUTLER COUNTY — Three men have been sent to prison for an incident involving the sexual assault of a woman who was visiting Oxford in February.
In April, Roger Richard Michael Simpson, 24, of Cincinnati, was found guilty of 23 felony crimes, including 10 counts of rape, sexual battery, complicity to rape and kidnapping after a four-day trial. On Friday, Butler County Common Pleas Judge Michael Oster sentenced him to 51 years in prison.
Elijah Lee Mincy, 22, of Oxford, who was charged with 23 felony crimes, but took a plea deal pleading guilty to rape and kidnapping, was sentenced to eight years in prison.
The third defendant, Rodney Adrian Louis Gibson II, 22, of Cincinnati, was charged with 26 felony crimes, but also took a plea deal, pleading guilty to complicity to kidnapping. He was sentenced to five years in prison.
The crimes involved a woman, who was 19 years old at the time, who was visiting Oxford on Feb. 11 and 12, 2017. The assault occurred in an off-campus apartment complex on Southpointe Parkway, according to Oxford police.
The victim was intoxicated at a party at the apartment and went with one of the men to another apartment where the assault occurred, police said.
Prosecutors say the three men assaulted the woman and held her against her will for about 90 minutes at the residence before the woman rejoined her friends and told them she had been raped.
The victim addressed each man during the separate sentencing hearings.
“Before you I was fearless … I was looking forward to my future,” the victim told them.
She said she now had difficulty with everyday life.
“My body, my life, my choice was nothing to you,” she said.
Simpson’s attorney Donald Leroy pointed out to the judge that he has a 1-year-old son and he would like to remain active in the child’s life. There were also a number of church members in attendance in support of Simpson.
“He is sorry for his actions,” Leroy said.
In his address to the judge, Simpson offered an apology to his son and mother “for putting them through the pain of me having to go to prison.”
He quoted scripture and said he would pray for the victim, but did not offer an apology.
Both Mincy and Gibson, who was the person the victim went to visit prior to the assault, did apologize for their actions.
Defense attorneys for Mincy and Gibson pointed out the men and no previous criminal history, were high school graduates and, at the time of offenses, were enrolled at Miami University.
Michele Temmel, Mincy’s attorney said, “friends and family when I talk to them about Elijah, they describe him as being kind, thoughtful, a hard worker, trustworthy and respectful.”
A number of family members, some sobbing, spoke to the judge on Gibson’s behalf.
Defense attorney Scott Kruger said Gibson is “very selfless and interested in the welfare of others.”
“He is remorseful,” Kruger said, pointing out that Gibson apologized to the victim soon after the incident.