Former Osceola teacher charged with sexual assault

Published: Jan. 17, 2014 at 10:51 PM CST|Updated: Jan. 31, 2014 at 9:43 PM CST
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OSCEOLA, AR (KAIT) - A former Osceola High School math teacher is charged with sexual assault of three students.

According to Prosecutor Scott Ellington's office, Jacqueline Nicole Winberry was in court on Friday for an arraignment. She had another appearance scheduled on February 21.

Winberry was charged with four counts of first degree sexual assault.

Superintendent Michael Cox said Winberry resigned from her position at Osceola High School last week.

Superintendent Cox said the staff began to hear rumors and allegations from students about a situation with Winberry and a student.

Superintendent Cox said the school started investigating and found evidence to back up the students' allegations.

"We had one student who had some text messages on his phone from a teacher," Cox said.

After discovering text messages, Superintendent Cox said the school immediately contacted the Arkansas Child Abuse Hotline and the Osceola Police Department.

"We have a resource officer from the Osceola Police Department. We brought him in and got him involved. And I think the people from the hotline contacted the state police, and they did an investigation," Cox said.

According to police, that investigation revealed Nicole Winberry may have sexually assaulted two more students.

Winberry appeared in Osceola circuit court Friday where she was charged with a total of four counts of sexual assault.

"It's just a sad day. It's a sad situation both for the students who were affected and Miss Winberry so there's no good that can come out of this," Cox said. "I just really hate that something like this happens, but you don't always know the people you hire. You don't always know about them until it's too late sometimes."

Winberry was a math teacher at Paragould High School before she came to Osceola High School. Paragould Superintendent Debbie Smith confirmed Winberry was employed at Paragould High School, but said Winberry resigned at the end of the 2013 school year.

Smith could not tell Region 8 News why Winberry resigned.

"We didn't know she resigned from Paragould," Cox said. "We hired her late in the year. It was an August board meeting, we needed a math teacher, and school was getting ready to start. We had a teacher here that had classes with her and spoke highly of her. We didn't know anything about the situation so we didn't know."

Superintendent Cox said he has never dealt with anything like this in his 20 years as superintendent.

"It's just a bad situation all the way around," Cox said.

According to police, Winberry is now facing any where from six to 30 years in prison and a fine up to $15,000. Her bond is also set at $15,000.

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