Jo Ann Stephens, former Mineola teacher, enters guilty plea - - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

Jo Ann Stephens, former Mineola teacher, enters guilty plea

By Jena Johnson - bio | email

Posted by Elizabeth Thomas – email

QUITMAN, TX (KLTV) – A former Mineola teacher pleaded guilty on Friday afternoon to having an improper relationship with a student.

This was part of a plea bargain for 42-year-old Jo Ann Stephens, who was once a teacher at Mineola Elementary and Junior High.

As Stephens entered the courtroom, she seemed calm, and ready to accept her plea deal.

She pleaded guilty to one charge of improper relationship between a student and educator.

The state says she had a 3-year relationship with a student—a relationship that began while she was substituting at Mineola High School.

Her attorney, Dan Wyde, says Stephens is ready to put this behind her.

"Mrs. Stephens has been very calm throughout this process. She understand the seriousness and the nature of the allegations," explained Wyde.

As part of the plea bargain, the state dismissed four other charges against the former teacher.

Wyde says he prepared to challenge the charges, but, that's not what his client wanted.

"I would have liked to try this case from the beginning to end, contesting guilty or innocence, but, that's the lawyer in me. Because frankly, I have serious questions about the evidence in the case which I have not been shown," Wyde says.

Evidence he'll likely never see, although he says he has lots to reveal to prosecutors.

"We have a lot of things to present when we get to the next phase. So, it's premature to indicate how this matter's ultimately going to turn out."

The state has made no recommendations in regard to punishment. Punishment could range from 2-20 years.

The sentencing date is set for April 27.

Stephens served at Diboll ISD as the girls basketball coach during the 1990s, leading them to an undefeated season in district play in the 1994-95 season.

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