Ex-teacher sentenced to six years for lewd acts
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