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An esteemed educator at an Alabama high school was found dead of an apparent suicide inside her home this weekend — just two days after her arrest for allegedly engaging in sex acts with two students, authorities said.
Leslie Buttram Gillespie, who taught at R.A. Hubbard High School in North Courtland, was arrested and booked into the Lawrence County Sheriff’s Office on Thursday. The 44-year-old English teacher was charged with individual counts of second-degree rape and second-degree sodomy along with two counts for being a school employee engaging in a sex act with a student under the age of 19, online court records indicate, as local station WAAY reported.
Gillespie was released the same day after posting a $60,000 bond, records show. On Saturday, police discovered her body inside her home.
“It appears to be a self-inflicted gunshot wound,” Lawrence County Coroner Scott Norwood said. Gillespie’s body will be autopsied at the Alabama Department of Forensic Sciences, AL.com reported.
Her arrest came after one of the two students she is accused of sexually assaulting came forward to authorities. The assaults allegedly occurred after she met the students after school in her classroom in September 2020, a Lawrence County sheriff’s office investigator wrote in a criminal complaint.
Gillespie was honored as teacher of the year at RA Hubbard in 2019. She was put on administrative leave by the school district after her arrest.
Jon Bret Smith, the superintendent of Lawrence County schools, assured parents in a letter that the district planned to conduct an investigation into the allegations after they were informed of the arrest.
“Our school district treats this type of situation with the highest level of care. District leaders are conducting an investigation into this matter and will support law enforcement as they do the same. While the district cannot provide any specific details at this time, we want to emphasize that there is nothing more important to Lawrence County Schools than the safety and well-being of our students. The district will work diligently and expediently to resolve this situation."
Stacey B. Gillespie shared a photo and wrote a message on Facebook on Saturday, Heavy reported.
“This is my wife and who she is. People are so quick to judge someone that they don’t even know. All of the negative comments have consequences,” the post reportedly read. “She loved all of her students just like her own kids. I got to hear about her day at school every evening when I got home. I know that she was sent to Hubbard for a reason and she made a huge impact on every student’s life while she was there.”
In a statement also posted to Facebook, the town of North Courtland offered condolences to those affected by Gillespie’s death and offered counseling sessions on Sunday.
“Mayor Riely Evans, council and staff would like to send our deepest condolences to the family of Mrs. Leslie Gillespie and prayers for her family and the students, staff, and faculty of RA Hubbard High School,” the statement reads.
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