A married Texas science teacher who was arrested on suspicion of having sex with a 17-year-old student has submitted a guilty plea to a judge. Sarah Fowlkes, 28, was arrested in March 2017 for allegedly having an illicit relationship with the unnamed student. She was charged with engaging in ‘sexual contact with the intent to arouse or gratify the sexual desire of’ the alleged victim.
Following her arrest, Fowlkes was suspended from her job at Lockhart High School in Texas. If found guilty of the alleged illicit relationship during a trial, she faces up to 20 years behind bars.
Fowlkes was in a Caldwell County court Wednesday to submit her guilty plea, which the judge has not yet accepted, KVUE reported. If the plea is accepted Fowlkes would serve 4 years deferred adjudication, surrender her teaching license and pay a fine. The amount of the proposed fine has not been released yet.
In Texas, deferred adjudication is a type of probation. If the term is completed successfully, the person will not have a conviction on their record.
The judge said Wednesday that he could take as many as eight weeks to consider Fowlkes guilty plea. Should he decline to accept the terms, her lawyer, Jason Nassour, said that she would withdraw the plea.
Fowlkes made headlines after her mugshot, in which she sported an ear-to-ear smile, went public. At the time, Nassour said that she was ‘smiling because she knows she is innocent.’
‘This isn’t a guilty person sitting there like they just got caught,’ Nassour told KXAS. ‘When everything’s fleshed out, it won’t be as it appears.’
Fowlkes, who has worked as a biology teacher at Lockhart High School since October 2014, was booked into Caldwell County Jail just hours after celebrating her birthday with her husband.
Lockhart police had obtained an arrest warrant for Fowlkes who turned herself in. Nassour added that Fowlkes ‘was arrested on the statement of a 17-year-old kid with no corroborating evidence.’
Police say they found evidence of messages exchanged between her and the student. ‘Their contact was of a sexual nature,’ said police.