Former Central teacher pleads guilty to sex charge

DEWITT — A former Central DeWitt High School teacher has pleaded guilty to a lesser charge after facing a felony sexual exploitation charge.

Ramsey Hinkle, 31, of Davenport, pleaded guilty to sexual exploitation by a school employee, an aggravated misdemeanor. The plea was entered Dec. 31 at Clinton County District Court through a plea agreement between Hinkle; her attorney, Timothy Tupper; and Assistant Clinton County Attorney Ross Barlow.

The plea details the sexual interaction between Hinkle — who was a language arts and speech teacher in the district at the time — and a male high school student at Central DeWitt that included her sending nude photos through social media. In the plea agreement, Hinkle acknowledges she was a school employee at the time, and the male was a 17-year-old student at the school.

A sentencing date is set for Feb. 7 at 9:15 a.m.

The plea deal nearly concludes a year-long court schedule with changes that included three orders of continuance. An initial preliminary trial conference was scheduled for March 15. It was then pushed back to April 5 and then May 17. Then, a final pre-trial conference was scheduled for Sept. 6 and a trial date for Sept. 24. That, too, was pushed back to Jan. 14.

However, no trial is needed now that a plea agreement has been submitted.

Hinkle, as a part of the plea deal, is required to register as a sex offender, and the felony charge will be dismissed at sentencing.

The misdemeanor charge carries a maximum of two years in prison and minimum of seven days of jail time. The misdemeanor also carries a fine between $650 and $6,250, plus court costs and surcharges.

An arrest warrant was issued for Hinkle after separate investigations by the DeWitt Police Department and Central DeWitt School District. The findings included emails on a school-issued email account, as well as journal entries and social media messages which, according to court documents, detailed the relationship between Ramsey and the male.

If the male hadn’t been a student, no laws would have been broken. Iowa’s age of consent is 16. Iowa law says any sexual relationship between a student and school employee is illegal regardless of the student’s age.

A message left with Hinkle’s attorney was not returned by press time.

Nick Joos is the DeWitt Observer's new editor.