A former special education teacher in Alabama has pleaded guilty to five criminal charges, and will serve probation for the next three years.
Lyndsey Sherrod Bates was arrested in May 2019 for allegedly sending nude photographs of herself to two students and having sex with one of them. According to officials, Bates allegedly had sex with the 17-year-old male student in February and allegedly sent the photos to the second student in March. The students were not part of her special education classes.
Bates wasn’t charged with rape because the students were old enough to agree to sex. The age of consent in Alabama is 16. She was charged with lesser crimes under Alabama student-teacher sex laws that say that “consent is not a defense.”
Instead, she was charged with three felony counts of distributing obscene material to a student, one count of school employee engaging in a sex act or deviant sexual intercourse with a student, and one count of school employee having sexual contact with a student under the age of 19 years.
Although she faced up to 20 years in jail, Bates won’t have to serve any jail time under the plea agreement. She will be on probation for three years. She is required to register as a sex offender, and is not allowed to contact any of her victims.
After her plea agreement, the prosecutors expressed satisfaction in her sentence.
“She’s going to be a sex offender and felon,” Madison County Assistant District Attorney Tim Douthit told AL.com. “But we’re not sending people to jail for consensual sex without any evidence of coercion.”
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On March 29, 2019, Bates resigned from Madison County High School, writing in her resignation letter that she wished to work in a “different area of education.” That same day, she and her husband of less than a year separated.
Five weeks later, Bates was arrested. Bates’s then-husband filed for divorce two days after her arrest citing “incompatibility,” court records state. The uncontested divorce was finalized in July.