Teacher Ducks Rape Charge by Saying 'I Do'

Leah Shipman marries 17-year-old former student

By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff

Posted Jan 20, 2013 3:34 PM CST

(Newser) – A former teacher in North Carolina has avoided statutory rape charges after marrying the alleged victim, the Wilmington Star-News reports. Leah Shipman, 42, was accused of sleeping with a 15-year-old student in 2009, but prosecutors reduced the charge to a misdemeanor after she divorced her husband of 19 years and married the student in 2011. In North Carolina, a defendant's spouse can only testify against the defendant in certain cases—and underage sex didn't fit the bill.

"None of the statements made in this case would be admissible without the victim," said an assistant DA. "The state pled (her) to what we could prove without the victim." Shipman allegedly slept with student Johnnie Ray Ison when he was 15 and married him with his mother's permission after he turned 17. Ison reportedly admitted the affair to investigators, but they could only pin it on Shipman if he testified. Shipman was ordered to give up her teaching license, serve 12 months' probation, and pay $345 in restitution. Her charge: resisting a public officer.

Leah Shipman.
Leah Shipman.   (Police Handout)
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