St. Clair County Circuit Court Judge Jim Hill tentatively set the trial for Heather Rich Whitten, 38, of Pell City, for August.
Whitten was indicted in February for second-degree rape after she allegedly had sexual intercourse with a juvenile male who was younger than 16 years old but older than 12 years old. She was also indicted for sodomy and for enticing a child for immoral purposes.
“Whitten…did unlawfully and feloniously, with lascivious intent, entice, allure, persuade or invite or attempt to entice, allure, persuade or invite a child under the age of 16 years, to enter a vehicle, room, house, office or other place, for the purpose of proposing to such child the performance of an act of sexual intercourse, or an act which constitutes the offense of sodomy…” the grand jury indictment stated.
On Tuesday, Pell City defense attorney Erskine Funderburg filed a written waiver of arraignment on behalf of Whitten, who did not appear in court. Normally a defendant is advised of the charges against them at their arraignment, when the arraignment is not waived.
Hill set a tentative plea day for July 30. He also set aside the week of August 6 for a possible trial in the case.
Whitten was arrested in February after she was indicted on the three-count indictment. She was released shortly after her arrest on a $15,000 bond.
Shortly after her arrest, Funderburg released a written statement saying the charges against Whitten had nothing to do with the Pell City school system or with the school she was employed at, at the time of her arrest.
“None of the allegations against her have any connections to a school or the school system,” Funderburg said in his written statement.
Whitten was suspended from the school system without pay shortly after her Feb. 3 arrest.
Whitten submitted her resignation to the Pell City School Board of Education three days after her initial arrest. The board officially accepted her resignation a week later at a scheduled board meeting.
According to the Williams Intermediate School website, Whitten was a fifth-grade reading and language arts teacher.
Prior to teaching at Williams Intermediate School, Whitten taught fourth-grade at Eden Elementary School for three years.
Contact David Atchison at email@example.com.