A former Mountain View High School teacher was sentenced Thursday in Clark County Superior Court to serve 30 days on a jail work crew for sending sexually explicit text messages to a 17-year-old student.
Shelley R. Leatherwood, 46, pleaded guilty Aug. 9 to first-degree voyeurism by way of an “in re Barr” plea, meaning she pleaded guilty to the lesser related charge she didn’t commit to avoid the risk of conviction on a greater offense. She was originally charged with felony communicating with a minor for immoral purposes and attempted first-degree sexual misconduct with a minor.
Leatherwood is no longer employed by Evergreen Public Schools. She had been a member of the career and technical education department, teaching animal sciences, according to a prior Mountain View directory. The district previously said she was hired in September 2018.
Leatherwood said Thursday she is currently unemployed.
She faced a standard sentencing range of one to three months in jail and 12 months of community custody. She will receive credit for two days already served.
Through tears, Leatherwood apologized to her family and to the victim.
“I didn’t intend to hurt anyone,” she said.
Judge Robert Lewis followed the attorneys’ agreed-upon sentencing recommendation of 30 days on work crew. In addition, Leatherwood will have to register as a sex offender and undergo treatment.
School officials contacted the Vancouver Police Department on Jan. 3 after the 17-year-old student reported a teacher engaged in a sexual conversation with him by text message 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,” the affidavit states.
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 say.
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 saw the text exchange, which according to court records 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 wrote, “I probably should go to jail about how I feel about you!”
After she sent the nude photo, court records state Leatherwood texted, “I can’t believe I sent that! It’s a mistake.” Her face was partially visible in the photo, and the cellphone number the texts came from matched the number on file in Leatherwood’s school district records, according to the affidavit.
Detectives served a search warrant Jan. 5 at Leatherwood’s house and arrested her, court records say.