A Texas high school teacher faces up to 40 years in prison now that a jury convicted her on two counts of sexual misconduct for having a relationship with a female student that allegedly began with a classroom kiss.
Emily Michelle Rogers, 25, began teaching social studies at Smithson Valley High School in August of 2014 where she also acted as an assistant coach for the girls’ volleyball and soccer teams. Two years ago, Comal County deputies opened an investigation on Rogers following allegations she was romantically linked to an 18-year-old female student in her class. The teacher then resigned from the Comal Independent School District.
Police arrested Rogers on April 9, 2015 and charged her with one count of an improper relationship between and educator and student for purportedly having sex with the unidentified student on Christmas Day, according to Comal County jail records. Almost a year later, on February 3, 2016, a grand jury indicted her, upping the charges to two counts of having an improper relationship for allegedly having two sexual encounters with the female student.
The San Antonio Express-News reported that Rogers, released from jail on a $100,000 bond, did not testify at the trial which began on Monday. However, the purported victim testified Tuesday that she was in love with Rogers, who was 22-years-old at the time of authorities accused her of acting inappropriately. The female student detailed sexual encounters that took place in her family’s house, in Rogers’ car, and at Rogers’ residence.
No witnesses spoke on behalf of the defense, although Rogers’ attorney, John Kuntz, argued the state failed to prove a viable indiscretion ever took place between the suspect and the victim. He depicted the former student as a liar and a “control freak” who pursued the teacher, saying the girl kissed Rogers in the classroom to make another student jealous and to manipulate the adult into a relationship, according to Express-News.
“Emily told her, ‘This can never happen,’ in response to the kiss,” said Kuntz, maintaining in his closing arguments that kissing and hugging was not a criminal offense. He said the only proof of any sex acts taking place came from allegations made by the purported victim. He posited: “The crime is the sex. Where is there proof of that?”
Prosecutor Daniel Palmitier countered that state witnesses provided an ample amount of evidence that supported the victim’s claims that she and Rogers engaged in sexual acts. He argued that on the same day Rogers nixed the girl’s advances, she later met her in a Target parking lot where the two made out for “about three hours.” He told the jury that the suspect’s mother acknowledged that “the two are in a dating relationship” and the teenager stayed at their home.
Palmitier also said he held Rogers responsible for failing to reject the girl’s initial advances at the time of the classroom kiss. He urged the jury to send a clear message to the community and to educators everywhere with a guilty verdict.
“This is something that is happening all too often and people need to be held accountable for it,” said Palmitier.
The jury, six men and six women, unanimously handed down the guilty verdict on both counts. Each, a second degree felony, carries a sentence of up to 20 years in prison. Rogers could receive a maximum of 40 years. The sentencing phase begins Thursday.
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