Matthew Shane Wester was accused of an inappropriate sexual relationship with his student Amy Nicole Cox, but now the 37-year-old teacher may be getting out of the charges after marrying the teenager.
Wester was indicted earlier this year and charged with one count of a school employee having sexual contact with a student under the age of 19. The court document claimed that the Alabama high school teacher “intentionally and knowingly engaged with a male or female student under the age of 19 in sexual conduct which was done for the purpose of gratifying the sexual desire of either party, to wit — kissing and spending the night with the victim.”
Now, prosecutors say the case against Wester has grown much murkier. They note that the nature of the crime may be different now that the two are married.
“I was provided a marriage license this morning out of Cullman County, which confirmed that they were married on Saturday in Gulf Shores,” said Blount County District Attorney Pamela Casey. “The charges currently pending against Mr. Wester stem from an investigation of his relationship with the victim while she was a student and he was a teacher.”
Prosecutors also noted that Wester may be able to claim spousal privilege, an Alabama law stating that one spouse cannot be forced to testify against another.
The statute states:
“For historical perspective, it is useful to note that spouses were once incompetent to testify for or against each other in civil or criminal cases. The only remaining vestige of this marital disqualification or incompetency is found in a statute that provides: ‘The husband and wife may testify either for or against each other in criminal cases, but shall not be compelled so to do.’ Ala. Code 1975, § 12-21-227.”
The law goes on to say that “a spouse may take the witness stand against an accused spouse if he or she decides to do so. Such a witness may be characterized as competent, but not compellable.” Even if Amy Nicole Cox chooses to take the stand against Matthew Shane Wester, she would not be required to give any information about their alleged relationship. Prosecutors have not yet said how they plan to proceed with the charges against the teacher.
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