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Thursday, November 30, 2023
Nov. 30, 2023

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Former Evergreen drama teacher pleads guilty to sex with student

By , Columbian Breaking News Reporter

A former Evergreen High School drama teacher pleaded guilty Thursday to charges that she had sex with a 15-year-old male student.

Stephanie McCrea, 36, pleaded guilty to four counts of third-degree rape of a child and one count of tampering with a witness. She is scheduled to be sentenced on Sept. 30 following a presentencing investigation.

McCrea and a 15-year-old boy began a sexual relationship in early December, according to court records. The two met before school and after drama practice, where they kissed and she performed oral sex on him, court documents state.

During Christmas break, McCrea picked the boy up from his house, took him to her house and had sex with him before meeting other drama students to watch a movie at a local theater, court papers say.

McCrea had sex with the student again in her office on the first day back to school after winter break, according to the documents.

McCrea communicated with the victim through a fake Facebook page, 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,” which led to the witness tampering charge, 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.”

Four other charges in the case, all of them alleging first-degree misconduct with a minor, were dismissed Thursday.

McCrea’s attorney, Steve Thayer, filed a motion on Monday to dismiss the charges arguing that the law applies to victims who are at least age 16 but not older than 18. In this case, the victim was not yet 16.

Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Colin Hayes amended the charges Thursday, removing the misconduct charges because they didn’t fit the facts, he said.

McCrea had been free on $40,000 bond since her first court appearance Jan. 28, but was jailed following Thursday’s hearing. Her conviction will require her to register as a sex offender.

The charges include aggravating factors, which allow Judge David Gregerson to impose an exceptional sentence if he chooses. The guilty pleas are not part of a plea deal, Thayer said, so Gregerson will decide McCrea’s sentence after hearing from both sides.

Thayer said that he plans to ask for a special sex-offender sentencing alternative, a punishment that includes a combination of less than a year of local jail time and probation with counseling.

“She had no prior record. She was a great teacher who helped a lot of kids and actually received recognition for the quality of her work,” Thayer said.

McCrea had been employed at the high school since 2006, where she taught 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, but resigned on June 30, according to the school district.

McCrea underwent a psychosexual evaluation, Thayer said, “which showed that this offense was situational and extremely unlikely to be repeated. She does not present an ongoing risk to the community.”

Hayes did not comment as to the sentence he will be seeking.

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Columbian Breaking News Reporter