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Teacher accused of relationship with student, 14

May 01, 2009|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. -- A female Musselman Middle School teacher accused of having a sexual relationship with a 14-year-old male student was arraigned Friday morning in Berkeley County Magistrate Court and has been placed on administrative leave by the county school district.

Stephanie Jo Walters, 27, of 40 Grindstone Drive in Hedgesville, W.Va., was charged with sexual abuse by a person in a position of trust to a child, according to court records. She was released from custody after bail was posted for a $20,000 bond set by Magistrate W. Randy Smith.

Walters, who has been employed by Berkeley County Schools for five years at the Inwood, W.Va., school, has been placed on administrative leave pending a hearing before the Berkeley County Board of Education, Berkeley County Superintendent Manny P. Arvon said.

"We will provide a safe and protective environment for our children and any act or acts that compromise this environment will not be tolerated," Arvon said in a press release. "We expect the legal system to run its full course regarding this matter.

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"This is an unfortunate occurrence. We have excellent teachers and students. It's very important that when students hear about something that's inappropriate, they report it so we can take appropriate action."

Walters passed a criminal fingerprinting and background check to obtain employment with the school system, Arvon said.

Walters is married and has two young girls, according to county records and her attorney.

The student told Berkeley County Sheriff's Department Sgt. B.F. Hall in an interview he got Walter's mobile phone number at a basketball game in December 2008, and began receiving text messages "of a sexual nature" from Walters in February, according to Hall's complaint filed in magistrate court.

The boy also said he received sexually explicit messages from Walters through the MySpace social networking Web site, Hall said.

On April 3, Walters allegedly approached the student during lunch and they went to a janitor's closet in the school, where they kissed and she allowed him to touch her breasts, but not beneath her shirt, Hall said.

The student also said Walters touched his chest and arms while they kissed, according to Hall's complaint.

Hall said the school's principal learned of the alleged relationship from a female student who received a text message April 21 from Walters detailing what supposedly happened April 3 with the student, Hall said.

Hall said he viewed several explicit messages on the boy's mobile phone and MySpace page sent by Walters.

B. Craig Manford, Walters' attorney, declined to comment on the case.

Anyone with information regarding the case may call Hall at 304-267-7000.

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