CENTER, TX (KTRE) - A Shelby County jury sentenced a former Shelbyville ISD teacher who had sex with an underage student to three years in a Texas Department of Criminal Justice prison Monday afternoon.
The jury sentenced Johanna Vickers, 37, to three years in prison for each of the 17 charges she was found guilty of last week. However, she will be serving the sentences concurrently, or at the same time.
Vickers' formal sentencing is scheduled for April 11 at 1:30 p.m.
As soon as Vickers is released from prison, she will be required to register as a sex offender.
On March 31, Vickers was found guilty on 17 of 18 charges against her. For the purpose of the trial, the 18 charges were consolidated into six felony charges. Vickers pleaded guilty to three second-degree felony improper relationship between an educator and student charges before the jury began to hear testimony in the guilt/innocence phase. 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.
In his closing statements, prosecutor Stephen Shires asked the jury if Vickers' actions would be punished or ignored.
"What message will be sent to teachers about what types of relationships with students will be tolerated?" Shires said.
Shires talked to the jury about how Vickers told the officers that her husband was not around and how her husband got on the stand and talked about how hard this had been on the marriage.
Shires said Vickers downplayed the toll this took on her marriage on a test.
Shires then played a video that Vickers sent to the victim about "noises" the victim made her make.
"We have a maturity issue here," Shires said. "If she is not mature yet, do you think she will be mature in the future?"
Shires claimed that the victim was not the only person Vickers was having boundary issues with.
"One of those was picking a student up from school and taking them home before getting it cleared with anyone," Shires said. "Then there was another problem when Vickers was riding around with two students and it had nothing to do with school. She called one of them a b---- … This was in the middle of the sexual relationship with the victim. … This was not an isolated incident… This should have woke her up. This should have been a bell going off in her head but it didn't."
Shires said Vickers will never teach again, but she still needs to be held accountable for what she did.
"Mrs. Vickers committed adultery, and she needs to work it out with her husband, her family. and God," Shires said. "That is none of our business, but the victim was her student. Mrs. Vickers took something that was good and wholesome and turned into something that was dirty and dangerous."
Shires said the victim has had a humiliating year at school.
"You heard [the victim's] mother and how he has lost his luster and joy," Shires said. "We heard from the victim. He feels dirty."
Shires talked of how the principal said parents trust teachers and that Vickers failed for this family.
"[The victim's mom] blames herself," Shires said. "But why, she trusted Vickers because she was his teacher. She trusted her because the Vickers family is good people. They kept him off the street. Ladies and gentlemen, Vickers violated the trust of [the victims mother]."
Shires then talked about how Vickers has embarrassed her own family. Shires pointed out that her husband has lost many of his friends and her own children are hurt by this.
"If she is separated from her children, then she has no one to blame with herself," Shires said. "She should have been with her children instead of with the victim down at Ragtown Park."
Defense attorney Seth Johnson told the jury that the first and easiest reaction is to be angry.
"Mr. Shires is urging y'all to send a message, but isn't mercy and forgiveness the message that we hear on Sunday morning?" Johnson asked.
Johnson told the jurors that the victim was not tricked into having sex with Vickers and that he was just a few months away from being able to give consent.
Johnson said Vickers has nothing against her prior to this altercation.
"She confessed May of last year, and she came in here on Day One and pleaded guilty to charges," Johnson said.
Johnson went through Vickers' past and said she has every right to probation.
"All this lady has left is her family," Johnson said. "The stigma of her having to register as a sex offender means she will not be able to reintegrate into society."
Johnson claimed if Vickers is placed on probation, it would be sex offender-specific probation.
"If she violates any of these conditions even once, she could be arrested and sent to prison," Johnson said.
Johnson said Vickers is never allowed to go on Shelbyville ISD property which means she cannot go to any of her children's' events.
"I am asking you to judge her as a whole person and not by the worst decision she has ever made," Johnson said.
Shires then closed with the jury. Shires said as a human being he hopes Vickers finds forgiveness from her family, the victim, and the victim's family.
"This is Stephen Shires, the prosecutor, and you are the jury," Shires said. "It is your job to do what is just. It is your job to do what is fair."
Shires said the fact that Vickers could not maintain boundaries is cause for concern.
Shires concluded that the law should be applied equally.
"We have not done a good job of treating everyone equal, but we are getting better," Shires said. "Close your eyes. I want to imagine it is not Vickers sitting up here. I want you to imagine it was the victim's coach, and the victim is a cheerleader. When you are in that jury room, think about that and what decision you would make. What is it good for the gander has to be good for the goose. What is good for the coach has to be good for Vickers."