Lyndsey Sherrod Bates, formerly a special education teacher at Madison County High School, could face up to 20 years in prison if convicted of a felony charge of engaging in a sex act with a student younger than 19. She is also charged with misdemeanor counts of distributing obscene material to a student and having sexual contact with a student, according to the indictment issued Friday.
The 22-year-old resigned her position and was arrested earlier this year.
“She’s looking forward to clearing this up and having her day in court,” said defense attorney Robert Tuten.
For now Bates still has a teaching certificate, according to the Alabama State Department of Education.
“Alleged misconduct has been reported to the Department,” state education department records state. “(A)t this time, the Department has not proposed any negative action against the individual’s certification or licensure; this status will be updated as soon as possible.”
Bates is accused of having sex with a 17-year-old male student, an investigator wrote in court records. She’s also accused of sending explicit photos to the 17-year-old and a second student, records state. Information about the second student’s age isn’t included in public court filings. Prosecutors have said both students were at least 16 years old, and neither was in special education classes.
Although 16 is the age of consent in Alabama, the state’s teacher-student sex law says, “consent is not a defense.” The felony charge is punishable by up to 20 years in prison and a lifetime on the sex offender registry.
At the time of her arrest, Lyndsey Bates was the daughter-in-law of Stacy Bates, a chief deputy for the Madison County sheriff’s office. The sheriff’s office investigated the case and said the relationship “in no way has affected the investigative process or urgency leading to (the) arrest, nor to the future criminal justice proceedings.”
Lyndsey Bates’ then-husband Andrew Bates cited “incompatability” in a divorce filing on April 14, two days after the woman was arrested, court records show. The uncontested divorce was finalized in July.
The couple married in May of 2018. They separated this year on March 29 — the same day Lyndsey Bates resigned her teaching job, records show.
She was hired at Madison County High at the beginning of the 2018-19 school year with a $39,305 salary, according to records in her personnel file. She passed a criminal background check and was deemed “suitable and fit to teach under state law,” state education department records show.
In her resignation form, Lyndsey Bates wrote she was leaving her job to seek a “different area of education.”
A grand jury indicted Lyndsey Bates this past week after determining prosecutors have enough evidence — probable cause — to take the case to trial. She is out of jail on bail pending trial, which is scheduled for February 2020.