The Norman Transcript

January 10, 2008

Former coach ordered to trial on rape charges

By Tom Blakey

Transcript Staff Writer

By Tom Blakey

Transcript Staff Writer

A diminutive, 17-year-old blonde took the witness stand in Cleveland County District Court Wednesday, and — presumably against her own wishes — testified about the intimate relationship she had with her biology teacher at Norman North High School during the second semester of the 2006-2007 school year.

The teacher — Lynn Lewallen — resigned from Norman North last June, following a suspension that came when the principal surprised the two alone in Lewallen’s locked and darkened classroom the early morning of May 4.

Special Judge Rod Ring, after about an hour and a half of testimony Wednesday morning, ruled sufficient evidence existed to bind over Lewallen, 44, on two counts of forcible oral sodomy and two counts of second-degree rape. Lewallen is scheduled to be formally arraigned 2 p.m. March 13 before District Judge Bill Hetherington.

The student testified she began attending Lewallen’s biology class in September 2006, when her 11th grade school year began. The student turned 16 in November and said their relationship began to change in January or February, from “friends to more than friends.”

The pair had begun text messaging and calling each other, after the student asked Lewallen for a business card from Lewallen’s desk drawer that listed Lewallen’s cell phone number.

The student said she began getting rides home from Lewallen when it rained, and described the first time the relationship became physical.

The student said her cell phone had run out of minutes, and Lewallen came to her house to tell her they wouldn’t be going to a basketball game as they’d previously planned.

Lewallen came into her bedroom and the student closed the door, she said.

“We kissed. It was on the lips. It was very detailed,” she said, an open mouth kiss.

The relationship progressed to kissing and touching each other in Lewallen’s classroom, before school. The acts took place on Lewallen’s desk or against the wall and became “very sexual,” she said.

“I would play with her hair, and do the same things she did to me,” she said.

The student said the pair never engaged in oral sex while at school, but would touch each other all over.

The pair sometimes would go to Lewallen’s residence during the 45-minute lunch period, she said. When leaving school, the two would walk separately to Lewallen’s car to avoid suspicion, she said.

“We both knew it was wrong and chose not to stop,” she said.

The pair engaged in oral sex on Lewallen’s bed or on the floor, sometimes with their clothes off or “halfway on,” she said.

Although she would sometimes arrive back at school late for her French class, “I was always late to French class,” she said.

Their relationship came to an end May 4, when the “principal walked in on us,” she said.

The student was escorted to the office by the principal, who called her mother to come to the school. The student said she was interviewed by police, and interviewed twice at Mary Abbott House.

She said she revealed more about the relationship in the second interview, after the police investigator had “found out more.”

“I knew I was supposed to tell the truth, it just didn’t come to my mind,” she said.

When asked about notes that were passed between the two, she replied: “I don’t have two of them because my mom found them and gave them to you all. (prosecutors).”

The student said she called defense attorney Steve Stice several times in attempts to avoid testifying against Lewallen.

“I told him I want to know how to prevent this,” she said.

Stice told her to tell the truth, and told her he couldn’t talk to her, she said.

The young woman admitted going to Lewallen’s house after the charges had been filed, entering without permission and finding Lewallen asleep.

Lewallen “freaked out” and told her she had to leave, she said.

“She was sleeping and I woke her up and she walked me out,” she said.

Stice asked her if she still was emotional about their relationship.

“Extremely,” she said.

Stice asked her who the aggressor was.

“What do you mean?” she said.

“Who made the first move?” asked Stice.

“I did,” she said.

The acts were all consensual, and she never did anything against her will, the young woman said.

“It was never forced,” she said.

Assistant District Attorney Jennifer Austin had amended counts three and four from first-degree rape to second-degree rape “to conform with the evidence.” Ring, in announcing his ruling, said he agreed with defense attorney Steve Stice the “evidence does not fit with the requirements” of the statute.

Ring bound over Lewallen on two counts of forcible oral sodomy and two counts of rape, and said he would let prosecutors decide whether to file counts three and four as first- or second-degree rape.

“The judge’s ruling is an interesting ruling,” Stice said, outside the courtroom. “We’ll have to take it before district court to resolve what I think are ambiguities in the statute.

“I’ll be filing a motion to quash counts three and four,” he said.

Each count of forcible oral sodomy carries a sentence of zero to 20 years; each count of second-degree rape carries a sentence of 1 to 15 years.