An Evergreen High School drama teacher pleaded not guilty Wednesday to charges connected with sexual encounters she allegedly had with a 15-year-old male student.
Stephanie McCrea, 35, was arraigned in Clark County Superior Court on four counts of third-degree child rape, four counts of first-degree sexual misconduct and tampering with a witness.
Her trial is scheduled for May 18. She has been out of jail on $40,000 bond since her first court appearance Jan. 28.
Court papers say that McCrea and the male student began a sexual relationship in early December.
The two met in McCrea’s office before school and after drama practice, where they kissed and she performed oral sex on him, according to court records. During Christmas break, McCrea picked the student up from his house, took him to her home and had sex with him before meeting other drama students to watch a movie at a local theater, court papers say.
The last time McCrea had sex with the student occurred after school in her office on the first day back from winter break, according to the documents.
Her attorney, Steven Thayer, escorted her to the courtroom Wednesday through an obstacle course of reporters and camera people. Several people in the courtroom’s public gallery were present for her hearing, including some Evergreen students and her supporters and detractors. She sat briefly in the public gallery before being called in front of Judge Scott Collier for the arraignment hearing. While she was waiting, her friend Kimberly Skach went to her and gave her an emotional hug.
After the hearing, corrections officers escorted her out a back door, circumventing a gathering of journalists waiting for her in the main courthouse hallway.
McCrea, who has been employed at the Vancouver high school since 2006, teaches English and theater. She was placed on administrative leave Jan. 9 when administrators were informed of the possibility of unprofessional conduct between McCrea and a student, according to the school district.
McCrea made a fake Facebook page that she used to communicate with the alleged victim and promised the boy they’d be together forever, said Senior Deputy Prosecutor Camara Banfield.
The alleged victim and McCrea “had discussions about keeping their relationship quiet and rehearsed what to say if interviewed by law enforcement,” court papers say.
The court documents say the victim told investigators that “McCrea had planned to continue their relationship and not make it public until he was 18 years of age.”
McCrea continued contacting the alleged victim after she was placed on administrative leave from the school, Banfield said. She and her husband, Nick McCrea, separated around the time she was placed on leave, according to court documents.
Under Washington state law, the age that someone can legally give sexual consent is 16, but teachers are prohibited from any sexually exploitative acts with a student of any age, including advances, exposure and intercourse.