Ex-teacher faces trial for statutory rape
Ex-teacher faces trial for statutory rape.
Kristi Dance Oakes’ pretrial diversion request is denied by judge
By LOLA ALAPO,email@example.com
April 26, 2006
SEVIERVILLE – His mother suspected something “weird” was going on when she caught her son on the computer at 1 a.m.chatting with his teacher.
When asked what they were doing, the boy said he and Kristi Dance Oakes were “studying.”
During the summer of 2004, Oakes drove the boy to and from his job at a Pigeon Forge amusement park, where she also was employed, because his car had broken down, the mother said.
On June 23, 2004, a police officer at 11:30 p.m. found a topless Oakes performing oral sex on the 16-year-old boy in her parked car near Douglas Dam.
“I put my trust in this woman,”the mother said.
Oakes, 33, was charged with statutory rape. She admitted the act in a statement entered in court but was seeking pretrial diversion, a move that would have kept the conviction from ever being entered against her if she behaved during a probationary period.
On Tuesday, the mother received the satisfaction of knowing Oakes will stand trial.
Sevier County Circuit Court Judge Dick Vance denied Oakes’ bid for pretrial diversion and set a June 21 trial date.
“I’m pleased with the judge’s decision because I don’t want her to do this to another child,” the mother said.
District Attorney General Al Schmutzer Jr. had previously denied Oakes’ petition for the judicial break. A state appellate court in January ordered him to reconsider his decision.
On Tuesday Oakes’ attorney, Barry Valentine, stated reasons why his client qualified for the break. She has received therapy, has not been in any trouble since the incident and moved to New Market “to get away from all this,” he said.
Oakes resigned from her position as a biological sciences teacher at Seymour High School soon after the charges.
Schmutzer argued against pretrial diversion, citing a prior incident in which the Seymour High School principal gave Oakes a warning after she was caught with another male student behind a locked door at school.
Oakes violated her position of authority as a teacher, Schmutzer said.
“A position of trust is something you hold in the community and you’re held to a higher standard when you do something wrong,” he said.
In making his decision, Vance opined Tuesday that although the incident that led to the statutory rape charge happened when school was not in session, Oakes was still an authority figure and breached her position of trust.
“Prosecution of this charge is warranted as a deterrent to other teachers who may similarly be tempted to be engaged in relationship with other students,” he said.
Oakes, a married mother, is free on bond and could face a one- to two-year prison sentence.
Valentine declined comment Tuesday.
The boy turned 18 in March and is joining the Marines, the mother said.