Another local teacher has pleaded guilty to sexual assault of a child and improper student/educator relationship.
Leann Wallace, a music teacher of more than 10 years at Legacy Christian Academy in Beaumont, was indicted by a grand jury March 28 and pleaded guilty to the crime in Judge John Stevens Criminal District Court Monday, July 15.
Wallace, who is married, was originally charged with continuous sexual assault of a child, but that charge was dropped under her plea agreement.
According to prosecutors familiar with the case, Wallace sexually assaulted a female family friend for more than five years before the victim came forward to her school, and eventually police. The girl was 13 years old when the improper student/educator relationship began.
“It’s pretty seedy,” a prosecutor said. “It’s horrible. It’s just horrible.”
Speaking under the condition of anonymity due to Wallace having not yet been sentenced, the prosecutor went on to say the molestation was truly ongoing.
“It went on for quite a few years. It wasn’t just one episode,” the prosecutor said. “It was at school, at home, in her car.”
The prosecutor said he would likely seek the maximum sentence, that of 20 years and a $10,000 fine. Wallace must also register as a sex offender.
In an interview with Legacy Director Roger Pricer, Wallace’s former boss said she was a top-of-the-line teacher and he was shocked to see her unexpected resignation letter.
“Leann gave me a written letter of resignation way back in November of last year. She gave it to me, no explanation,” Pricer said. “I, of course, was inquisitive. I’m the director. I tried to get something out of her and she said, ‘No comment, Roger. This is effective immediately.’”
A few months later in January, he and other school administrators at Legacy found out why Wallace had resigned.
“Holy smokers,” Pricer said demurely. “That’s kind of what I said to myself.”
Pricer said he was sad to see her go after having taught music and choir for more than 10 years, especially under the circumstances.
“I have to look at it from two different perspectives. ... On the one hand I have to stand behind what our laws say, what they dictate and what they require for certain types of offenses. I mean, I’m a U.S. citizen. I just have to do that for law and order,” he said.
“Then there’s the other side of me, who has seen her teaching, has seen her interacting with multiple students and my heart goes out to her. She was a terrific teacher. It’s one of those paradoxes in life.”
He said Legacy is currently hiring new fine arts teachers, adding to a faculty who he said was appalled and surprised by Wallace’s actions.
“She did a terrific job teaching and relating to the students,” Pricer said. “And all of a sudden to find this out? Oh, how disappointing.”
At least 10 other local teachers have been charged and/or convicted of sexual assault of a child or improper relations between a student and teacher in the last five years, according to a simple Web search.
Having never been convicted of a misdemeanor or felony offense, the prosecutor said Wallace might have a tough time serving her sentence.
“Pen time for her is going to be bad. She’ll have to serve at least half of that,” the prosecutor said. “For a person who’s never been in trouble, that’s going to be a dramatic change for her.”