A former Estill County High School teacher has pleaded guilty to a charge of first-degree wanton endangerment after she was accused of hitting a girl, trying to force the girl to lie and failing to report a man’s attempt to have sex with a student.
Sherry Murphy, 42, accepted a plea agreement and is scheduled for sentencing Jan. 4.
Murphy resigned from her position with the Estill County school system in April 2019, as Kentucky State Police investigated the case.
Police alleged that Murphy had been in a relationship with a man, Torstein Torsteinson, who in September 2018 had contacted an underage girl through Facebook Messenger in an unsuccessful attempt to try to get her to have sex with him, according to a police uniform citation in Torsteinson’s case.
Police said at the time that Murphy knew about his communication with that girl and several other female students but didn’t report it.
After further investigation, police added charges of fourth-degree assault and intimidating a participant in the legal process, accusing Murphy of hitting an underage girl in the mouth while the girl was at Murphy’s home, then trying to force the girl to lie to social services and school officials about the incident.
Under the plea agreement, Murphy would surrender her Kentucky Teaching Certificate and spend five years on supervised pre-trial diversion, court records indicate. If she didn’t comply with diversion rules, she would face potentially significant prison time.
Torsteinson was charged with unlawful transaction with a minor and evidence tampering.