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Student alleges sex with teacher
A first-year Hebron High School teacher and former Miss Texas contestant faces up to 20 years in jail after an 18-year-old student told police he had sex with the 25-year-old woman several times at her apartment in Austin Ranch.
Amy McElhenney, who taught Spanish and was a cross-country coach at the Lewisville ISD school in Carrollton, is charged with having an improper relationship with a student, a second-degree felony. She was arrested on May 25, the last day of school, posted $5,000 bail and was released.
Ms. McElhenney could not be reached for comment. The student's identity was not released.
According to an arrest warrant affidavit, another student sent an anonymous note last month to Hebron's resource police officer that indicated Ms. McElhenney's cellphone contained "intimate" text messages to and from the 18-year-old.
When police interviewed Ms. McElhenney at the school, she allowed them to view the text messages.
"Messages that were on there led us to believe there was a little bit more going on between the teacher and this student," said Carrollton police Sgt. David Sponhour.
In an affidavit, a Carrollton police officer said the messages "constitute a flirtatious and endearing relationship" between Ms. McElhenney and the student.
While Ms. McElhenney denied having a physical or sexual relationship with the teen, she told police she felt their relationship was inappropriate, police said.
When interviewed at home, however, the student gave police a written statement in which he said he and Ms. McElhenney had sex on "numerous occasions" at her apartment. He told police their alleged relationship began in February.
Ms. McElhenney was charged under a law that outlaws sexual relationships between educators and students even if the sex is consensual and the student is of legal age.
In Texas, the age of consent is 17.
Proponents of the law have said it sends the message that even older teenagers should not be considered capable of consenting to sex with a teacher, especially since educators have power over their students.
Others, however, have said that while the law's intent may be good, it should contain different provisions for different ages and distinguish between students who do and don't consent.
The law took effect Sept. 1, 2003. Between then and the end of 2005, five Texas teachers were convicted and sent to prison under the law.
Three Garland school district teachers were arrested under the law in 2005 and accused of having sexual relationships with students. One also was charged with two counts of indecency with a child because the student was underage.
The Lewisville school district placed Ms. McElhenney on paid administrative leave May 11.
In March she turned in a resignation form that went into effect May 25.
Officials said she indicated she was not returning to Hebron because she was taking a teaching position in another district, though they were unclear on what district that is.
School officials said they alerted the state certification board of the investigation and her arrest.
Ms. McElhenney was scheduled to teach a Spanish course at a summer camp program in Corsicana, where she was hired as a contract employee after being selected to teach the course for 7- to 12-year-olds by the Navarro Council of the Arts.
"In light of the information, we'll either find another instructor or cancel the program," said Connie Standridge, Corsicana's city manager.
According to the Miss Texas Web site, Ms. McElhenney competed in the scholarship pageant in 2002 as Miss Bexar County when she was a student at the University of Texas at Austin.