Tuesday, August 6, 2013
Months after allegations of sexual relations with a student surfaced against a Winfield High School teacher, that teacher, Ashley Eck, made her first court appearance Tuesday.
Eck is charged with one count of unlawful sexual relations between a teacher or school employee and a student. She is accused of having sex with a 16-year-old Winfield High School student sometime in December 2012, according to court documents.
Among the people in the Cowley County Courtroom where Eck heard the charges against her were fellow faculty and staff who said they were there to support Eck.
"In my heart of hearts, I believe that she is innocent," Mina Eggleston said.
Eggleston was a paraprofessional in Eck's classroom from the time Eck began teaching at Winfield in 2011 until she was placed on administrative leave in May. Eggleston said she knew Eck as a good English teacher and a good person.
"I have never, ever heard or saw her do anything inappropriate in front of a student, around a student," she said.
Winfield Public Schools Superintendent J.K. Campbell said Eck was placed on administrative leave in May, when investigators first started looking into the allegations against her. She is still employed by the district and remains on administrative leave.
"I think it does two things," Campbell said. "It helps protect the staff member as well as the people that are making the allegations against a staff member or teacher."
Eggleston said she will be in the courtroom each time Eck is there as a show of support and to see whether she will be able to believe the allegations against Eck.
"I am going to have to sit here every day and listen before I make a final judgment because in my heart of hearts, I don't believe it," Eggleston said.
The next time Eck, who is out of jail on bond, will be in court is Oct. 2. During that hearing, prosecutors, her attorney and Cowley County District Judge Nicholas St. Peter will determine whether the case is ready to proceed to a preliminary hearing.