Teacher accused of sex with student seeks dismissal of charges

By NEAL WAGNER / Managing Editor

A 33-year-old Hueytown resident and former Pelham High School assistant principal is seeking dismissal of the charges against her, claiming her indictments are in violation of “the federal and state constitutions.”

Bell

Bell

In a motion filed on July 2, Catherine Bell’s attorney, Jonathan Lyerly, requested Shelby County Circuit Court Judge Dan Reeves dismiss three felony charges of a school employee having sex with a student younger than 19 and one misdemeanor charge of a school employee having sexual contact with a student.

Bell, who previously listed an address in Alabaster, was arrested by the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office on Dec. 12, 2013, and charged with three counts of a school employee engaging in a sex act or deviant sexual intercourse with a student under the age of 19. She was released from the Shelby County Jail on bonds totaling $120,000 the same day she was arrested.

Bell was charged with the crimes after turning herself in to authorities at about 2:45 p.m. on Dec. 12.

According to her arrest warrants, Bell allegedly engaged in sexual conduct with an underage male student three times between December 2012 and November 2013. The incidents happened at an Alabaster residence, a Birmingham residence and in a vehicle off U.S. 280, according to the warrants.

She was ordered in her arrest warrant to not have contact with the victim.

Bell’s arrest came after a Shelby County Sheriff’s Office investigation, during which Bell was placed on administrative leave before she resigned from her position in November 2013.

According to Alabama law, Bell’s charges are Class B felonies. If convicted of the crimes, Bell could face up to 20 years in prison per charge.

In his motion to dismiss the charges, Lyerly claimed the “alleged victim was not a student during this entire time,” and said the charges should not be upheld.

Lyerly claimed the indictments against Bell violate the U.S. and Alabama constitutions, Bell’s 14th Amendment rights, her “right to submissive due process under federal and state law” and claimed the indictments were “unconstitutionally vague, uncertain and impermissibly broad.”

As of July 8, Reeves had not taken action on Lyerly’s motion.