Ex-teacher sen­tenced to six years for lewd acts

The Oklahoman - - NEWS - BY JOSH DULANEY Staff Writer jdu­[email protected]

TISHOMINGO — A for­mer teacher has been sen­tenced to six years in pri­son for com­mit­ting lewd acts with a boy, in a case that re­lied heav­ily on thou­sands of text mes­sages.

Shel­ley Jo Dun­can, who was 48 when she was ar­rested in 2016 in a school park­ing lot and ac­cused of in­ap­pro­pri­ate con­tact with a 14-year-old stu­dent, main­tains her in­no­cence.

Dun­can and the boy shared more than 9,000 text mes­sages, which pros­e­cu­tors re­lied on.

Her at­tor­ney, Jac­qui Ford, said the texts don’t con­firm lewd acts or show any plan­ning on the part of Dun­can.

“The only thing in­ap­pro­pri­ate was the quan­tity and the jury couldn’t over­come it,” Ford said. “Shel­ley was con­victed over the text mes­sages, be­cause even though none of them are bad, we can’t get over the way it makes us feel, and an in­no­cent woman is sit­ting in pri­son.”

On Wed­nes­day, a John­ston

County judge im­posed Dun­can’s six-year sen­tence.

A Cleve­land County jury con­victed Dun­can in Oc­to­ber and chose the pri­son sen­tence. The trial was moved from John­ston County be­cause the city of Tishomingo has just 3,000 peo­ple, and Dun­can is well-known there. She was also a cheer­lead­ing coach.

It was the se­cond trial for Dun­can. The first ended in a mis­trial.

The boy told in­ves­ti­ga­tors that he and Dun­can had kissed nu­mer­ous times, and that she once ex­posed her breasts to him, a state agent re­ported in an af­fi­davit.

Pros­e­cu­tors said Dun­can en­gaged in in­ap­pro­pri­ate be­hav­ior with the boy one night at the school dis­trict’s Al­ter­na­tive Ed­u­ca­tion build­ing where she taught at-risk stu­dents. The boy was not one of her stu­dents.

The boy tes­ti­fied that dur­ing this time he and Dun­can kissed but did not have sex.

“Shel­ley Dun­can has main­tained her in­no­cence in this case from the be­gin­ning,” Ford said. “There was never any sex­ual con­tact, ever. Nor are there any feel­ings from her to­wards him of any kind of ro­man­tic na­ture.”

Ford said Dun­can’s son played sports with the boy. The boy met Dun­can’s daugh­ter and they dated for about eight weeks. In April 2015, Dun­can and the boy started tex­ting each other.

Dun­can and the boy each said “I love you” in text mes­sages, the state agent re­ported in the af­fi­davit. Dun­can re­ferred to the boy as “love” and “Boo.”

Her lawyer, Ford, said it was com­mon for Dun­can to talk to peo­ple that way.

In one text, the boy told Dun­can he wanted to “kiss your cute butt.” Dun­can replied with a smi­ley emoji, ac­cord­ing to charg­ing doc­u­ments.

Ford said the texts don’t con­firm lewd acts or show any plan­ning on the part of Dun­can.

Ford said Dun­can has a his­tory of work­ing with at-risk youth. Born and reared in Ada, she was a coun­selor right out of col­lege and later moved to the Ok­la­homa Of­fice of Ju­ve­nile Af­fairs as a pro­ba­tion of­fi­cer.

From there, she be­came a state De­part­ment of Cor­rec­tions pro­ba­tion and pa­role of­fi­cer. As her own chil­dren grew older, Dun­can de­cided to teach at the Al­ter­na­tive Ed­u­ca­tion build­ing in Tishomingo, where she had lived for more than 20 years.

Ford said the 14-yearold boy was an awk­ward kid with body is­sues and Dun­can was help­ing him work through it. She also bought him clothes.

“Shel­ley was noth­ing other than a good friend to this kid and played a coun­selor role to him,” Ford said. “Shel­ley Dun­can was never ever sup­posed to spend a sin­gle day in jail.”

Shel­ley Jo Dun­can

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