The Atkins High School teacher who pleaded guilty yesterday to having sex with a student in her classroom said she disgraced a profession that she considers to be honorable.
"I am feeling pain in every aspect of my life, and I will feel it for the rest of my life," Amy Elizabeth Yarbrough said in Forsyth Superior Court after she pleaded guilty to seven counts of sexual activity with a student and three counts of indecent liberties with a student.
Yarbrough, 32, of 2050 Brian Center Court is an English teacher in the School of Computer Technology, one of three schools-within-a-school at Atkins. She has been suspended without pay, and the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County school board is scheduled to vote June 22 on a recommendation that she be fired.
Judge Patrice Hinnant consolidated the sexual-activity charges and sentenced Yarbrough to 24 to 30 months in prison. She suspended a sentence of 12 to 15 months for the indecent-liberties charges for 36 months. Hinnant placed Yarbrough on intensive supervised probation and ordered that Yarbrough not be allowed to teach in North Carolina. Yarbrough also must register as a sex offender for 30 years.
"As a teacher, the court would expect that the words of the teacher would be like a fountain of information," Hinnant said. "The lips of a teacher should be used to dispense knowledge, not to perform oral sex."
The investigation into Yarbrough's conduct started in November after two janitors at Atkins reported suspicious activity in Yarbrough's classroom, Detective Gary East of the Forsyth County Sheriff's Office testified. But investigators didn't initially find any proof of criminal misconduct.
Then, on Dec. 3, after a tip, Deputy Willie Williams, a school resource officer, and an assistant principal found Yarbrough and a male student partially nude in Yarbrough's classroom during a basketball game at Atkins, East said.
The student told investigators that Yarbrough had been his teacher the year before and that he had approached her about tutoring because he was failing English, East said. The student and teacher began a physical relationship the second week of the tutoring and had sexual intercourse and oral sex several times within a month.
East said that no condoms were used and that the student told investigators that he and Yarbrough had talked about the possibility that she could get into legal trouble.
John Warren, a psychologist who evaluated Yarbrough at the request of her attorney, Carl Parrish, testified that Yarbrough had a romantic fantasy about the student and that she fell in love with him, Warren said. Yarbrough would be unlikely to repeat the offense, he said.
Yarbrough apologized to school officials, her family, the student and Hinnant for her conduct.
"I do know I am guilty and I am suffering," she said.
"I have faith in today's judgment, and I pray to God that I have the strength to accept it."