A 42-year-old woman in California is accused of the statutory rape of three members of her local high school football team. Prosecutors in Siskiyou County, about 60 miles south of the Oregon border, say an investigation into Mary Fletcher began in September 2016. No arrest was made because there was no threat to the community.
KOBI reports that Fletcher, who also goes by Debbie, had been working with the official photographer for the Mount Shasta High School football team when the alleged abuse occurred.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. The DA Prosecuting the Case Has Called it ‘Challenging’
District Attorney Kirk Andrus told KOBI about the difficulties in prosecuting the case. Andrus said, “You know, these cases are always challenging. I mean especially for a young person that are by definition not prepared for this kind of relationship. Relationship is probably the wrong word but they’re not prepared for this kind of interaction with an adult.”
The KOBI report adds that school officials were reportedly not aware of the alleged relationship. While Siskiyou Sheriff Jon Lopey said that there are text messages between Fletcher and the victims. Lopey has speculated that those messages indicate Fletcher attempted to get her victims to keep quiet about the abuse. The abuse happened off campus.
In a statement, School District Superintendent Mike Matheson said, via KOBI:
We have become aware that authorities arrested a Siskiyou County woman on Tuesday for unlawful sexual conduct with three different victims and attempting to keep a witness from cooperating with authorities.
We take allegations of misconduct against our students and the youth of our communities seriously and remain committed to ensuring that every student in our District is able to learn and thrive in a healthy, safe environment supported by the community.
We will continue to follow District policies and procedures designed to protect students during this investigation currently being handled by the Siskiyou County Sheriff’s Office and District Attorney. We are working very closely with law enforcement while they lead the investigation. We understand and appreciate the community’s desire for more information.
Out of respect for student privacy rights and the ongoing nature of the investigation, we will respectfully provide any additional information as we find it appropriate. As reported by the sheriff’s office, no school district employees were involved in the alleged misconduct, and school officials promptly notified law enforcement when they became aware of the potential situation.
Read more about Mary Fletcher in Spanish at AhoraMismo.com:
2. Fletcher Was Arrested & Charged With a DUI in April 2016
In April 2016, Fletcher was charged with driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, reported Siskiyou Daily. It is unclear if that charge will have any impact on Fletcher’s recent arrest.
Fletcher was held at the Siskiyou County Jail on a bond of $10,000. Her first court appearance is on March 22. Mount Shasta News reported in December 2016 that an arrest was “imminent.”
3. Fletcher Works as a Dental Assistant & Has a Daughter
On her now-deleted Facebook page, Fletcher says that she had been working as a dental assistant. She also said on that page that she has one daughter. In 2011, Fletcher modeled in a “mock wedding” photo shoot in Mount Shasta.
During an interview with the New York Post, Siskiyou Sheriff Jon Lopey described the abuse as occurring after a “chance encounter” and that Fletcher, “evidently developed a relationship with the boys at a later time.”
4. The Photographer That Fletcher Was Working With Was Also Fired From the School
KTVL first reported on the scandal without naming Fletcher. The report says that Fletcher had been working with a local photographer at Mount Shasta and met the victims while on a shoot with the football team.
That photographer said, “she was friends with the woman who is suspected of having this inappropriate sexual contact.” The photog added that she was fired after the allegations against Fletcher first emerged and that she still trying to get her job back working with the school.
5. Fletcher Could Be Facing 4 Years in Prison
A press release from the Siskiyou County Sheriff’s Office notes that Fletcher’s offenses is considered a “serious felony” and that Fletcher could receive a “strike” as a result.
The penalties for statutory rape in California differ depending on the age difference. It can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony. Those found guilty can spend up to four years in prison. The reasonable defenses for the crime are genuinely not knowing the victim was underage or that no intercourse took place.