An Evergreen High School drama teacher is accused of having sex with a 15-year-old student both at the teacher’s house and at school, according to court documents.
Stephanie McCrea, 35, appeared in court Wednesday morning to face four counts of third-degree child rape, and one count each of sexual misconduct with a minor in the first and second degree and tampering with a witness.
Documents obtained in the case allege that the sexual relationship began in early December, when the male student began visiting McCrea’s office before school and after drama practice four to five times a week, when the two would kiss. The alleged victim told investigators that there were two instances of oral sex prior to the winter break, according to the documents.
The first encounter of sexual intercourse happened during Christmas break when she 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, according to court documents.
The second and 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.
The alleged victim and McCrea “had discussions about keeping their relationship quiet and rehearsed what to say if interviewed by law enforcement,” according to a probable cause affidavit.
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, including advances, exposure and intercourse.
McCrea allegedly made a fake Facebook page that she used to communicate with the alleged victim and promised the boy they’d be together forever, said Camara Banfield, senior deputy prosecuting attorney for the Arthur D. Curtis Children’s Justice Center.
Court documents reveal 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 contact with the alleged victim after she was placed on administrative leave from the school, Banfield said.
“Unfortunately, we’ve had the opportunity to hear from people who don’t think it’s as serious because the victim in this case is a male,” Banfield said. “Whether the victim was a male or a female, it was extremely serious and she was placed in a position of trust.”
The court documents state that McCrea suffers from mental health problems that stem from a 2012 car crash and that McCrea attempted suicide two weeks ago.
Banfield argued for McCrea’s bail to be set at $500,000, but McCrea’s attorney Steven Thayer argued that the high bail request was “political,” and that McCrea should be placed on supervised release. McCrea, who is married and has a 9-year-old son, has no prior criminal history.
Thayer said that McCrea turned herself in on Tuesday and would not pose a flight risk.
“This is situational; there is no reason to believe she will reoffend,” Thayer said. “This is the only thing she’s been brought to court for in her life.”
Judge David Gregerson set McCrea’s bail at $40,000. McCrea posted bail and was released Wednesday afternoon, according to Clark County Jail staff.
Her release conditions stipulate that with the exception of her son, McCrea is banned from direct or indirect contact with minors, and she is prohibited from using the Internet and electronic media.
“This court will not entertain any violation of that,” Gregerson said.
McCrea, who has been employed at the Vancouver high school since 2006, teaches English and theater. She was placed on administrative leave earlier this month when administrators were informed of the possibility of unprofessional conduct between McCrea and a student, according to a letter sent to Evergreen High School parents Tuesday.
As a drama teacher, McCrea has been recognized as a director who has guided her students through edgy productions featuring dark themes, including teen alienation and war crimes. In 2011, Evergreen High’s production of “Little Shop of Horrors” received several honorable mentions in a musical theater competition in Seattle.
According to Lisa Emmerich, Evergreen’s principal, “a qualified substitute is in place and, with support from other staff at Evergreen Public Schools, will continue to deliver a high level of learning and engagement to ensure students are gaining skills and experience.
“We understand that students in McCrea’s classes and the outstanding EHS Drama program may be highly impacted by the circumstances and criminal charges against McCrea. We have trained counselors available for any student who needs help dealing with this unfortunate situation,” Emmerich’s letter said.
Danielle O’Brien, who graduated from Evergreen High School in 2012, attended Wednesday’s court hearing to learn more about what was happening.
She said if the allegations are true, she’d support the student victim in getting justice. But, she said, this affects more than one person.
“I’m here more to support the students because I know the students are all extremely upset and they deserve to have that support,” she said.
O’Brien said that while in school she participated in the theater program and had McCrea as a director.
“She was an amazing woman when I knew her,” she said.
McCrea’s arraignment is scheduled for Feb. 11.