Sunday, February 05, 2017

Trial for Webb City teacher charged with sex with student delayed until October

By the time the trial for former choir teacher Carrie Njoroge on a charge of having sex with a student finally happens (if it happens), it is likely that not one student who was attending Webb City High School at the time of her arrest will still be attending school there.

During a brief session Monday in Jasper County Circuit Court, the trial was delayed until October 24, more than two years after the original trial date of October 15, 2015. Njoroge was arrested in April 2014.

The case was delayed for months when Njoroge's attorneys, Dee Wampler and Joseph Passinise of Springfield, argued that Njoroge had not committed any crime at all because the student was 17 and the sex was consensual and that she was constitutionally permitted to having sex with a student who had reached the age of consent.

In Passanise's original motion, filed October 2, 2015, the attorney said the state statute prohibiting a teacher from having sex with a student is "unconstitutional," he said, "because it is overbroad. It prohibits conduct to which a person is constitutionally entitled along with conduct that a person has no right to engage in,."

Passinise cited Lawrence v. Texas, noting "the U. S. Supreme Court held that consenting adults have a liberty right under the Due Process Clause to engage in private sexual conduct." That ruling, handed down in 2003 by a 5-4 margin, struck down sodomy laws in 13 states, but had nothing whatsoever to do with teachers having sex with students.

Passinise continues, "The 14th Amendment accords constitutional protection to personal decisions relating to marriage, procreation, family relationships, child rearing, and education."

That argument, which caused the first delay in Njoroge's trial, was rejected by Judge David Mouton.

An after-hours sex act with an 18-year-old high school student led to criminal charges being filed against Njoroge, according to the probable cause statement.

The act allegedly took place Tuesday, April 15, 2014, in her office at the school. Two days later, school officials placed her on paid administrative leave. She resigned the following day, according to a statement from the school district.

The probable cause statement says that April 15 was not the first time Njoroge had sex with the student. He says the relationship began three months earlier.

The probable cause statement, written by Webb City Police Department Cpl. Josh Smith, is printed below:

On April 15, 2014, between the hours of 19:30 and 21:30 hours at 621 N. Madison, Webb City, Jasper County, Missouri, 64870 (Webb City High School), Carrie Njoroge, a Webb City High School choir teacher, had consensual sexual intercourse with an 18-year-old male student in her office. The student stated they participated in an ongoing relationship for approximately three months involving oral sex on multiple occasions and sexual intercourse on April 15, 2014.

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