Ex-SMW High Teacher Pleads Guilty to Sex With Minors | News
JOHNSON COUNTY, Kan. — Former Shawnee Mission West High School teacher Michelle Preston pleaded guilty to three counts of unlawful sex with a minor on Thursday and isn’t expected to serve any jail time because of her plea.
Preston, 28, admitted to having sex with at least two of her students from September to December in 2010. She initiated contact with the students on Facebook. She then began texting them and later invited them to her house.
In March 2011, police launched an investigation after a nude cell phone photo of Preston began circulating among students.
Preston reportedly had sexual relations with one teen boy at least 15 times. That boy’s DNA was found on a couch cushion in her basement. Another boy said he had sex with Preston at least once and had made out with her on the same sofa. A third student said he never had sex with Preston, but did “make out” with her in her basement.
Preston’s attorney said although her crimes carry a 31 month to 13 year prison sentence, by pleading guilty, Preston may not serve any prison time. Instead, her defense attorney said she will likely be placed on probation and will have to register as a sex offender for the next 25 years.
Her sentencing date is scheduled for June 1. She is currently out on bail.
When asked if Preston received leniency because she is a woman, the prosecuting attorney, Steve Howe insisted he showed no gender bias, and that a male teacher could have received the same plea agreement.
“Ultimately, when talking to my prosecutors they felt like the same resolution would occur but there is that stigma, ‘Do we treat these things differently?’ and that’s why we had that general discussion in our office, Howe said.
Howe said all the victims in the case supported the probation punishment.
“Each of the victims in this case were over the age of consent. They were 17 and 18 years old,” Howe said. “We’d be having a totally different conversation if the victims were under the age of 16.”
In March of last year, hours after police launched their investigation into Preston’s activity, she was injured in a one-car accident. Police said her car crashed after it drove off a small cliff and vaulted onto the opposite side of embankment of the creek.
Preston and her husband are now the parents of a six-month-old girl.
“She’s got this newborn,” said Preston’s attorney, Scott Toth. “She’s got a family, just wants to work towards the future at this point.”