Sentencing phase starts in trial for ex-Shelbyville teacher who - KTRE.com | Lufkin and Nacogdoches, Texas

Ex-Shelbyville teacher who had sex with student takes stand, apologizes

Source: KTRE Staff Source: KTRE Staff
Johanna Vickers (Source: Shelby County Jaik) Johanna Vickers (Source: Shelby County Jaik)
Source: KTRE Staff Source: KTRE Staff
Source: KTRE Staff Source: KTRE Staff
Source: KTRE Staff Source: KTRE Staff
CENTER, TX (KTRE) -

A jury is now hearing testimony in the sentencing phase of a former Shelbyville High School teacher who was convicted on 17 of 18 charges in connection to the sexual relationship she had with an underage male student.

For the purpose of the trial, the 18 charges were consolidated into six felony charges. Johanna Grace Vickers, 37, of San Augustine, pleaded guilty to three second-degree felony improper relationship between an educator and student charges. The jury trial was to determine her guilt or innocence in regard to the sexual assault of a child and indecency with a child charges.

At the time of the allegations, Vickers was an employee of Shelbyville ISD. She had previously been employed by Corrigan-Camden ISD.
According to an earlier press release, an investigation was started after Shelbyville ISD received phone calls on May 8, 2015 about the allegations. The district worked with the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office to start an investigation.

The alleged victim’s phone was searched and they were able to recover deleted text messages that pointed to a sexual relationship. Vickers number was also saved under “sister.” The press release continued stating the alleged victim told investigators the two of them had sexual encounters on two separate occasions in late March and early April of that year.

During his opening statements, Stephen Shires, the prosecutor told the jury that they are the “duly-authorized conscience of Shelby County.”

Shires urged the jury to make sure Vickers does her prison time all at once instead of serving “stacked” sentences, whatever the punishment winds up being.

The prosecutor also told the jurors that the punishment they will decide will set an example for the community and its teachers.

"She built him up, pushed him academically, and made him feel good about himself. That's what teachers are supposed to do, but what went wrong?” Shires said.

Shires asked the jury whose responsibility it was to say no in the first place. He also reminded them of how she has hurt her children, her family, her community, and the victim.

Shires said that she didn't take responsibility, but the boy was the one who caused the sexual penetration.

"Today I'm going back I ask you to judge Johanna Vickers as a whole person, not by the biggest mistake she's ever made,” defense attorney Seth Johnson said in his opening arguments.

 Johnson showed the jury a Power Point presentation about how probation works and explained about how intense it is.

"This is a woman with no previous criminal record, who has done many good things in her life,” Johnson said.

Friday morning, the state called Mario Osby, the principal of Shelbyville High School, to the stand.

When Shires asked Osby about teachers and coaches having boundaries, he replied that educators are in charge of parents’ most precious things, their children. He added that if those boundaries are crossed, lives are changed.

Osby said Shelbyville ISD teachers attend training seminars about that topic every year before school starts, and he confirmed that Vickers attended the training sessions.

Shires then had Osby identify and explained disciplinary write ups that Vickers had received when she was at Shelbyville ISD. The SHS principal said because of them, he did not feel that Vickers had been keeping appropriate relationship boundaries.

In one instance, Vickers got in trouble because of a Snapchat video that showed her in a car with two students. The video also allegedly showed her calling one of the students a “b----.” In the other incident, a student was upset with her mother, and Vickers came and picked the student up from her home.

Next, the state called the victim’s mother to the stand. The woman said because she was working the 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. shift at the time, it was difficult for her to pick her son up from school. As a result, Vickers started giving the woman’s son a ride home from school. She added that she thought it was a good idea at the time because she thought the Vickers were good people, and it kept her son off the streets.

"My son was made to sit up here and be made accountable for his mistakes,” the victim’s mother said.

She said she feels accountable herself, and added that she should've seen what was happening.

 "But … I trusted her,” The victim’s mother said. “I just want everyone to be accountable."

Later, the victim’s mother described her son as her “greatest accomplishment.”

The woman described the victim as a great, likeable kid, and explained that he has changed since he had the inappropriate sexual relationship with Vickers. She added that her son thinks he ruined Vickers’ life.

During her testimony, the victim’s mother said that her son plans to play college basketball and had originally planned to go to Stephen F. Austin State University or Sam Houston State University. However, the teen but is now going somewhere in Kentucky because he wants to get away from here, the victim’s mother said.

At that point, Johnson asked the victim’s mother if she wants Vickers to go to prison

"If that's what it takes to get her help,” the victim’s mother replied. “So this doesn't happen again. So no one else has to sit here like this."

Johnson then explained how probation is intense and offers treatment, she then repeated that she would support whatever is necessary for Vickers to get the help she needs.

When Shires asked the victim’s mother if Vickers hurt her son, she said yes.

Later, Johnson called Vickers’ husband, a teacher and coach at Shelbyville ISD.

At a question from the defense about how Vickers is as a mother, her husband said she’s a lovable person, and he said he has never doubted that she loves them.

Under further questioning from Johnson, Vickers’ husband explained why he chose not to divorce his wife.

"When Johanna told me this had happened, it's hard to put into words, I was emotionally heartbroken, furious, mad at Johanna, mad at the victim, everyone that had a hand that was involved,” Vickers’ said.

They went to marriage counseling four hours away in the Crowley-Fort Worth area for eight weeks, Vickers’ husband said.

Their church told them to stop coming. They have lost a lot of friends, but they've found a new church in Milam and are healing, getting back to normal, Vickers’ husband said. He explained they have joined a recovery group at church.

"The reason I stayed and am still here is because early on it was just me and Johanna, and when she cried at night, I was the only one that saw the remorse, brokenness,” Vickers’ husband said. “Today, she's not that same person, I promise you that. When I see where we've come, God has brought us to where we are now."

Vickers’ husband said they will stand with her regardless of punishment.

Shires asked Vickers’ husband what he would do if one of Vickers’ softball players was in love with him, and he said, “The boundaries are there to protect in that situation. Thank God I've never been in that situation, but I would do my best to make sure I was not in that situation."

Then Shires asked how he would feel if one of his kids were in a position the victim was in. Vickers said he taught the victim and coaches him and said he hurts for him as much as he hurts for his family because he was basically a family member.

Friday morning, the state called Mario Osby, the principal of Shelbyville High School, to the stand.

When Shires asked Osby about teachers and coaches having boundaries, he replied that educators are in charge of parents’ most precious things, their children. He added that if those boundaries are crossed, lives are changed.

Osby said Shelbyville ISD teachers attend training seminars about that topic every year before school starts, and he confirmed that Vickers attended the training sessions.

Shires then had Osby identify and explained disciplinary write ups that Vickers had received when she was at Shelbyville ISD. The SHS principal said because of them, he did not feel that Vickers had been keeping appropriate relationship boundaries.

When it came time for the defense to call witnesses to the stand, Johnson called Vickers and asked her to address the people affected by her actions.

Vickers tearfully told her students, fellow teachers, the school district, and Osby that she was sorry she failed them.

"I was the adult. I violated that trust,” Vickers said. “It's not something I can take back."

When asked if she believes, she is guilty Vickers said yes.

"I'm guilty of letting a boundary be crossed,” Vickers said.  “I'm guilty of letting down my administration, my students. I loved being a teacher, and I will miss it every day."

Vickers also apologized to the victim’s mother.

“I’m so sorry,” she said. “If I could take it back, I would. I’m sorry for the pain I caused your family. It was supposed to be this way. I love you.”

Then Vickers addressed her own family.

"I'm so sorry I've broken your hearts,” Vickers said. “My husband knows I do not blame him. I think he's a hero. He fights for us and our kids and our family, and he didn't have to, and nobody else would."

Copyright 2016 KTRE. All rights reserved.

Powered by Frankly