Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Teacher who faced 10 years behind bars for "relationship" with 19 year old student gets 10 months

(Original Post 5-29-10)
A 28 year old Shelby, NC teacher is facing a decade behind bars for an "affair" with a 19 year old student at the school she worked at. Nichole Chapman, a married mother of three daughters was arraigned at the Cleveland County Law Enforcement Center Thursday morning. Chapman was charged with two counts each of indecent liberties with a student and sex offense with a student.

The judge set Chapman's bond at $75,000 and ordered her not to have any contact with the victim, 19 year old Vavaughia Snipes. This may be a problem since instead of listing her estranged husband, Chapman listed Snipes' mother, Chella Whisnant as her nearest relative during booking.

Chapman and Snipes began their "relationship" about a month ago at North Shelby School, a school for special needs students between 3 and 21. All encounters took place at his home, and he claimed to have started the relationship. Snipes said that "I ain't no victim...I love her and she loves me, so as far as that goes. They are not going to stop me from seeing her so it don't matter,” he said. He suffers from seizures and a learning disability.

Chapman said she believes she was arrested and charged “Probably because I'm white and he's black." Jeff Ledford, the Shelby police chief, disagrees. "That teacher-student relationship, that's where it's at. That's where your issue lies. The age goes out the window when you are talking about a teacher [and a] student,” because North Carolina law considers teachers to be guardians of students.

(Update 5-2-11) Chapman was sentenced to 10 to 12 months in jail for indecent liberties with a student and sex offense with a student. In December, Cleveland County (NC) Superior Court Judge Forrest D. Bridges accepted Chapman's pleas. On Monday, May 2, it wasn't Judge Bridges, but Judge James W. Morgan who formally sentenced Chapman. Bridges ordered psychatric evaulations for Chapman, conducted while at a psychiatric hospital in Butner, NC. The evaluations stated that she was competent to stand trial.

Chapman’s lawyer, Katherine Haen, said the former teacher was on medications to treat her various disorders at the time of the incident. Haen said this “cocktail” of medicine affected her behavior.

Chapman’s mother and father sat in the courtroom during the proceedings. Haen said Chapman’s parents drove to Raleigh on a regular basis to visit their daughter over the three months she was at the psychiatric hospital. Haen said it was over the course of her stay at the psychiatric hospital that Chapman changed.

"I think she’s gotten to know herself. She actually thanks Judge Bridges for putting her through that program...She has three daughters she hasn’t seen since December. I hope that the court will allow her to be released today to start a new life, a new direction. This experience has really transformed her.”

Chapman echoed her lawyer's statement. “I’m not the same Nicole. I can tell, and my family can tell, I’m a different person thanks to the help I’ve gotten.”

No comments: