Former Landmark High School teacher files motion to withdraw guilty plea to forcible sexual abuse | Crime and Courts

A former Landmark High School teacher, Sarah Lewis, has filed a motion to withdraw her guilty plea to one charge of forcible sexual abuse.

Lewis, who taught dance and social studies at Landmark High School, was scheduled to be sentenced Monday in Fourth District Court for alleged sexual activity with two male students.

She was originally arrested in January on suspicion of having sexual activity with a minor after providing him alcohol, and was charged with rape of a minor.

A second student later came forward alleging sexual activity with Lewis, who struck a plea deal in June and pleaded guilty to one count of forcible sexual abuse.

But Lewis’ public defender, Thomas Means, filed a motion to dismiss Lewis’ guilty plea on July 12.

In the affidavit, Means wrote that he originally advised Lewis to plead guilty because “(T)he male was younger than 18 years of age, and 2) at the time of the conduct Sarah Lewis occupied a position of special trust in relation to the male, i.e. a teacher employed by a public secondary school who was 18 years of age or older.”

But, Means wrote in the affidavit, when reviewing the related state statutes for another case, he noticed that the statute had been amended in 2014. Means now believes that an adult having unlawful sexual conduct with a 16 or 17 year old is subject to a third degree felony, rather than the second-degree penalty of forcible sexual abuse.

“Because I was unaware of the amendment … until after Ms. Lewis offered her plea, I did not advise her of this change in the law that affected the degree of the offense to which she plead,” the affidavit stated.

Lewis appeared before Fourth District Court Judge Kraig Powell Monday. Powell rescheduled her sentencing for July 31, and said the motion to dismiss Lewis’ guilty plea will be considered at that time.

Powell also instructed the state to…

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