Former Texas teacher found guilty of having sex with students

The Fort Worth Star-TelegramAugust 17, 2012 

This report includes descriptions of sexual behavior.

Former Kennedale High School teacher Brittni Colleps was found guilty this morning of having multiple sexual encounters with five of her students.

Jurors took less than an hour to convict Colleps on 16 counts of improper relationship between an educator and student. The 28-year-old mother of three faces probation to 20 years in prison and a $10,000 on each of the counts.

Colleps was ordered into custody after the verdict and her bond was revoked.

All of the students were 18 at the time of the sexual encounters, which occurred in the spring of 2011.

The punishment phase of the salacious trial is scheduled to begin at 12:30 p.m. today.

During closing arguments earlier this morning, prosecutor Tim Rodgers said the evidence against Colleps is “overwhelming.”

Jurors have begun deliberating in the salacious case of a former Kennedale High School teacher who is accused of having sex with five of her students.

If convicted, Brittni Colleps, a 28-year-old mother of three, could be sentenced to the maximum 20 years in prison and a $10,000 fine on each of five charges of an improper relationship between an educator and student.

All of the students were 18 at the time of the sexual encounters, which occurred in the spring of 2011.

During closing arguments this morning, prosecutor Tim Rodgers said the evidence against Colleps is "overwhelming."

"There's no gray area. There isn't a sliding scale of how guilty she is," Rodgers said.

Defense attorney Cynthia Fitch countered by saying that Colleps has lost her good name and her reputation with this case.

"Her name has been drug through the mud through the last 15 months," Fitch said.

Lex Johnston, who is also representing Colleps, said "this is a victimless crime."

"I didn't hear from any children," Johnston continued. "These are grown men that are old enough to go to war."

Johnston asked jurors to read excerpts from the text messages Colleps and the students shared.

"Those are the children the district attorney's office wants you to protect," Johnston said. "...Each one of these boys is just as guilty in this crime as Brittni Colleps."

Johnston said the trial was nothing more than a dog and pony show "and you can infer that she didn't want to have any part of it."

He asked jurors "to tell the DA and the state of Texas that this act is not a crime."

Prosecutor Elizabeth Beach said that Colleps signed a school policy promising to comply with the law to not have sexual relations with students.

"You don't have a crime captured on videotape very often and that is what you have here," Beach said.

She said the students did not wear condoms and that “everybody ejaculated” during the night when Colleps was videotaped having sex with four of the students. Beach described the amount of bodily fluids and possible diseases exchanged during the night as “staggering and it is disgusting. It’s completely disgusting.”

Beach told the jurors “that is the legacy that this senior English teacher left to her students. That is her legacy.” “She’s not teaching them as an English teacher (Lord) Byron’s 'she walks in beauty, like the night,' ” Beach told jurors. “She’s teaching them Brittni’s 'this is what Ms. Colleps does in the night.' "

Beach asked the jurors to return a guilty verdict on all counts.

'18 or not, it's a crime'

On Thursday, three of the former students who testified told jurors that they did not consider themselves victims and did not want to see their former English teacher prosecuted.

Arlington police Detective Jason Houston testified that charges were filed because "18 or not, it's a crime" for a teacher to have sex with her students.

The only emotion Colleps has shown came Thursday afternoon after prosecutors rested their case.

Standing at the defense table with the jury out of the courtroom, Colleps was asked by her attorney, Lex Johnston, whether the state had ever offered her a plea bargain.

She answered no.

She then began crying as she indicated that she never wanted the case to go to trial, or her former students to have to testify.

After Colleps indicated that she would not testify, Johnston rested his case without presenting any evidence.

'I didn't want to get her in trouble'

The first former student to testify Thursday told jurors that his sexual relationship with Colleps began with little fanfare.

The 19-year-old, who is using the pseudonym Richard, testified that he had never exchanged texts with Colleps but had simply gone to her Arlington home twice with friends and that they all engaged in sexual conduct.

Former students Mark and Aaron testified Tuesday that their sexual relationships with Colleps began with the exchange of text messages that quickly turned sexual.

Richard testified that he did not have intercourse with Colleps but that she performed oral sex on him both times.

Richard said he does not consider himself a victim and was "happy" to be at Colleps' house.

A student identified as "Jordan" testified that he learned from his friend Mark that Colleps was having sex with students.

"I just was amazed," said Jordan, now 20.

Jordan testified that he went to Colleps' house twice and engaged in group sex and that he recorded the last encounter using Aaron's phone.

He said that from the start, the students discussed having to keep quiet about their activities because they didn't want Colleps to get in trouble.

And yet, Jordan testified, he was called into the school office May 11, 2011, and questioned about it by school officials.

He said he initially denied the relationship, not out of embarrassment, but because "I didn't want to get her in trouble."

"I was trying to save her," Jordan testified.

Under cross-examination by Johnston, Jordan denied that Colleps told him to stop filming the encounter.

'Keeping it on the low'

Johnston and fellow defense attorney Cynthia Fitch tried unsuccessfully to prevent the recording from being entered into evidence, arguing to state District Judge Ruben Gonzalez that Colleps was unaware that it was being made and had not given her consent. Jurors were shown the graphic video Tuesday.

The final witness for the state Thursday was John, now 19, who testified that he had first gone with Colleps to a Texas Rangers baseball game and that nothing sexual occurred.

But John said he went repeatedly to Colleps' house with friends, and at least once alone, and engaged in sexual conduct with her.

During one of those times, John testified, Colleps cooked the students spaghetti, then showed them sex toys -- some of which lighted up -- and modeled some lingerie.

He said the friends went into the back yard with Colleps, where they played a game of truth and dare.

John testified that after Jordan was dared to have sex with Colleps, all the students eventually made their way into her bedroom, where they had sex with her.

John testified that the group had discussed "keeping it on the low" so that Colleps wouldn't get in trouble.

Under cross-examination by Johnston, John acknowledged that he did not want to be in court testifying against Colleps.

When Johnston asked what John believes should happen to Colleps, he replied, "Me personally, I wouldn't say jail time."

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