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Teacher Leah Gayle Shipman Marries Minor She Had Sex With, Escapes Jail Sentence

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A former North Carolina teacher will escape some serious jail time after marrying a student she had sex with when he was only 15.

Leah Gayle Shipman, who taught in Brunswick County, was charged in January 2009 for statutory rape, sexual offense and taking indecent liberties with a student. But, court records indicate that Shipman divorced her husband of 19 years on Jan. 19, 2011 and married the student, Johnnie Ray Ison, on Jan. 25. Ison was 17 at the time, however, was given permission from his mother to marry Shipman.

Because the two married, Ison could not be compelled to testify against Shipman in court. The marriage only became more publicly known after Shipman pleaded guilty last month to resisting an officer’s investigation.

Evidently, Shipman had texted and called Ison during his police interrogation, and the police were able to get the information from the phone as part of the investigation.

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Shipman now faced only 30 days in jail (instead of 15 years for the original charges), 12 months probation, $345 in restitution.

Ison, now 19, pleaded guilty on the same day to three unrelated charges — one felony count for breaking and entering and two for larceny — and will serve 24 months on probation.

Shipman has been stripped of her teaching license and fired from her job.