Aug 26, 2015

Cody teacher arrested on allegations she slept with a student while teaching in Douglas

A Cody teacher was arrested Monday on allegations that — while she was a teacher in Douglas in late 2013 and early 2014 — she had sex with a 17-year-old high school student.

The Cody Police Department, joined by Converse County Sheriff’s Department personnel, arrested 34-year-old Katie Marcus around 8:30 a.m. at Sunset Elementary School, where she has been a special education teacher.

Marcus is charged with two felony counts of third-degree sexual abuse of a minor in Converse County. They relate to two alleged encounters with the teen sometime between November 2013 and January 2014 in Douglas.

Charging documents filed on Monday indicate that, although being close to two years old, the allegations were brought to law enforcement’s attention just last week; school superintendents in Douglas and Cody said they did not know about them until Marcus’ arrest.

Court records say the allegations came to light just last week, when one the teen's peers spoke to a counselor about the past relationship.

While youth are legally able to consent to sexual contact at the age of 17 in Wyoming, Marcus is charged with a crime because the Converse County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office is alleging she held “a position of authority” in relation to the high school student. At the time of the alleged encounters, Marcus was working for the Douglas school district as an elementary-level special education teacher.

Unlike all other offenses, Wyoming law protects the identities of people charged with sexual crimes in public records until and unless their case gets past a preliminary hearing in Circuit Court and advances to District Court. For that reason, public court records in the case have redacted the name of the defendant and information that might identify her and Cody Police Chief Perry Rockvam refused to name the woman police arrested at the school. However, Cody News Company has independently learned that Marcus is the defendant from multiple sources of information.

Public records show Marcus made bail — which had been set at $50,000 cash — and was released from the Park County Detention Center on Monday. Cody News Company was unable to learn whether Marcus has retained an attorney.

Park County School District No. 6 Superintendent Ray Schulte declined to comment on Marcus’ employment status on Wednesday, but said “she’s not currently on the job.”

Marcus joined the Cody district in July 2014.

Cody schools superintendent Ray Schulte said Wednesday that Marcus is “not currently on the job.”

Schulte said he first learned of the case when Cody police “showed up Monday morning and wanted to visit with one of our employees.

“There was no indication ahead of time this was coming,” he said.

The allegations apparently surfaced because of a photo the then-17-year-old took and shared of he and the woman together in a bedroom. The woman — who Cody News Company is identifying as Marcus — was apparently half-naked in the photo, says an affidavit from Converse County Sheriff’s Office that Investigator Keri McNare filed in support of the case.

The public version of the affidavit is heavily redacted, making it difficult to determine exactly which statements were made by which people. However, it appears the teen had sent the picture to a friend, who showed it to another friend roughly a year ago, who reported the information to a counselor, who, in turn, contacted Converse County law enforcement Aug. 19.

On Friday — two days after getting the information — McNare interviewed the former high school student.

He told the investigator that Marcus approached him after a December 2013 sporting event and said “that he looked good and played good,” McNare recounted.

The teen told an investigator that things began when Marcus approached him after a sporting event.

They exchanged messages on Snapchat and Marcus said she wanted to hire him to do some chores, McNare wrote of the teen’s account.

The teen said he later went to Marcus’ house and she gave him five or six glasses of wine, McNare recounted.

The teen said the two had sex that day — when he took the picture and sent it to a friend via Snapchat — and again a week or so later, McNare wrote. The teen said Marcus told him not to tell anyone about it, McNare wrote.

If Marcus was interviewed by law enforcement prior to her arrest, that information is not included in charging documents.

Marcus worked for Converse County School District No. 1 from the fall of 2007 to the spring of 2014, said district superintendent Dan Espeland. She began as a paraprofessional before becoming a special education teacher — working with kindergarten through third grades — in the fall of 2011, Espeland said.

The superintendent said he learned about the case on Monday.

Speaking generally, he said the district has always taken student safety seriously and has policies in place to try to protect children.

“It’s just like the laws out in society that are there to protect our society: some people choose not to obey the laws,” Espeland said.

“The person who orchestrated the hiring of Katie Marcus is no longer in a position to do that type of work,” Schulte said.

Schulte, the Cody superintendent, noted that the allegations stemmed from before Marcus' time in Park County.

“I don’t have any reason to believe that students in Cody were ever in jeopardy of anything,” Schulte said.

Speaking to the district’s hiring processes, Schulte added that “the person who orchestrated the hiring of Katie Marcus is no longer in a position to do that type of work.”

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