JOHNSON COUNTY, Kan. — Former Shawnee Mission West High School teacher Michelle Preston was sentenced Friday to 36 months probation for having sex with her students.
In April, Preston, 28, pleaded guilty to three counts of unlawful sex with a minor. Preston’s attorney, Scott Toth, said although her crimes carry a 31-month to 13-year prison sentence, by pleading guilty, Preston will not serve any prison time unless she violates her probation. If that occurs, she will spend 32 months in jail.
Preston must also register as a sex offender. However, under the agreement, she can have her record wiped clean in three years if there are no violations.
When asked if Preston received leniency because she is a woman, the Johnson County Assistant District Attorney Keith Henderson insisted that under the same circumstances a male teacher could have received the same sentence.
“I would have not handled this case any differently had the defendant been a man,” he said.
Johnson County District Attorney Steve Howe said all the victims in the case supported the probation punishment.
“Each of the victims in this case were over the age of consent. They were 17 and 18 years old,” he said. “We’d be having a totally different conversation if the victims were under the age of 16.”
In March 2011, police launched an investigation after a nude cell phone photo of Preston began circulating among students. Preston later admitted to having sex with at least two of her students from September to December in 2010. She admitted to initiating contact with the students on Facebook. She then began texting them and later invited them to her house.
Preston reportedly had sexual relations with one teen boy at least 15 times. That boy’s DNA was found on a couch cushion in her basement. Another boy said he had sex with Preston at least once and had made out with her on the same sofa. A third student said he never had sex with Preston, but did “make out” with her in her basement.
In March of 2011, hours after police launched their investigation into Preston’s activity, she was injured in a one-car accident. Police said her car crashed after it drove off a small cliff and vaulted onto the opposite side of embankment of the creek.
Preston and her husband are now the parents of an eight-month-old girl.
“She’s got this newborn,” said Preston’s attorney, Scott Toth. “She’s got a family, just wants to work towards the future at this point.”