A prosecutor in Alabama is calling a nearly 40-year-old man's marriage to his 18-year-old former student a "sham" to prevent her from testifying against him in a sex case.
Matthew Shane Wester - a 38-year-old former math teacher and one-time coach for both track and football at an Alabama high school - allegedly had sexual contact with one of his students back in 2014. According to AL.com, prosecutors indicted Wester in January 2015, alleging he "intentionally and knowingly engaged with a male or female student under the age of 19 in sexual contact which was done for the purpose of gratifying the sexual desire of either party, to wit - kissing and spending the night with the victim."
Wester, who was married with a child at the time of the incident, resigned from his teaching position a month after the indictment, AL.com added. Last June, Wester, who divorced his wife a year ago, married the student, who has been identified as 18-year-old Amy Nicole Cox (Cox has previously shared photos of herself and Wester together, including one now widely-shared picture captioned "happily married"). But with the trial against Wester on the horizon at the time of their wedding, authorities are saying the marriage is simply a strategy to stop the teen from testifying against Wester in court - Alabama state law provides married couples with "marital privilege," meaning they can't be forced to testify against each other.
"On June 13, 2015, just 67 days following the divorce from 'wife No. 1,' and less than five months prior to the initial trial setting in this matter, the defendant married the student whom he subjected to sexual contact while he was a teacher and she was student,'' Blount County District Attorney Pamela Casey argued in a pretrial motion. "It is the state's position that the marriage to the student is a sham by the defendant to prevent the student from testifying against him."
Casey is asking the court that, because Cox is technically a victim of the crime Wester is charged with, she be forced to testify. The trial is currently scheduled to begin on April 25.