LEE COUNTY, AL (WTVM) - A former East Alabama teacher accused of sexual assault and doing drugs with students appeared in court for the first time Wednesday.
Judge Russell Bush ruled cameras not allowed inside the court due to the number of minors involved in this case, however News Leader 9 was inside the courtroom listening in on the descriptive testimony.
"Legislature made it a crime for a school employee to have sex with a student under the age of 19. It's a Class B felony," said Lee County District Attorney Brandon Hughes.
In what could be the first case prosecuted under a new Alabama law, former Beauregard High School teacher Hunter Armstrong is charged with having sex with a student under age of 19 and possession of drug paraphernalia.
"I think it's important for parents to know what their children are doing and who they are texting," said Hughes following the preliminary hearing.
The victim, who is a minor and former Beauregard High student, said she went to Armstrong's Auburn apartment. Investigators said the alleged sexual assault happened on the night of May 4 into the early hours of May 5. It wasn't reported until the victim's mother uncovered Snapchat texts that appeared to be a conversation about Armstrong and her then 15-year-old child having sex.
According to court testimony, the victim and her friend, who is also a minor, drove to Armstrong's apartment where they smoked marijuana. The friend said she went outside to her car while the alleged assault between Armstrong and the victim happened.
Investigators said during an interview that Armstrong admitted to smoking marijuana with another student other than the two who appeared in court Wednesday, but said the alleged incident on the night of May 4 and May 5 did not happen.
The prosecution claimed Armstrong sent a message to the victim that included his address along with a message of "come over."
The defense told a much different story, claiming the two Beauregard students showed up to Armstrong's apartment intoxicated and hung around for one to two minutes, when Armstrong told them to leave. Defense attorneys also cited lack of evidence, claiming some of the alleged messages between Armstrong and the victim could not be recovered because they were on Snapchat.
However, the victim was able to describe Armstrong's apartment layout and bedroom in detail.
"If it happens one time, it is a problem. We want to be there to protect the youth of our community," said Hughes.
Bush found probable cause in this case and it will later be presented to a Lee County Grand Jury.