Ex-teacher may have probation revoked on sex offense charge

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A former Douglas elementary school teacher who committed a sex crime by sleeping with a 17-year-old boy has repeatedly violated the terms of her probation over the past year and a half, authorities allege.

Katie Marcus, who now lives in Cody, is currently serving supervised probation for third-degree sexual molestation of a minor. Because of a deferred prosecution agreement offered by the Converse County Attorney’s Office and accepted by a judge, the case will be dismissed if she successfully completes four to five years of probation.

Last month, however, Converse County prosecutors asked a judge to revoke Marcus’ probation.

According to Marcus’ probation agent, the 37-year-old left the state without permission at least twice, drank alcohol “on a daily basis” for nine months despite being ordered not to, failed to keep her required schedule and added six minor males as Facebook friends and started an Instagram account in violation of restrictions placed on her use of social media. That’s in addition to shoplifting more than $150 worth of items from the Cody Walmart last summer.

If presiding District Court Judge John Brooks finds that Marcus violated her probation, he could choose to place the felony sex crime on her permanent record and could potentially order her to serve prison time.

At a meeting in May, probation and parole agents with the Wyoming Department of Corrections warned Marcus that she could lose her deferral.

“Ms. Marcus was told that her actions and violations are indicative of someone who is not concerned about losing their [deferred] sentence, or possibly a worse consequence if revoked,” Cody-based probation agent Kristine Juergens recounted in a recent letter to Judge Brooks that’s included in court records. “She was told that at times her attitude and demeanor come across as if she feels deserving of special treatment and does not accept her crime and status as a sex offender. In other words, she feels above probation and the restrictions.”

Juergens’ letter alleges that Marcus’ probation violations started immediately after she was sentenced, but the agent wrote that Marcus “has also made some positive progress in addressing her criminogenic needs.”

Marcus slept with a Douglas High School student in late 2013 after inviting him to her home via Snapchat and giving him multiple glasses of wine; a second sexual encounter followed some time later.

Law enforcement didn’t learn of the illicit relationship until August 2015, after Marcus had moved to Cody and started working as a special education teacher. She was arrested at Sunset Elementary School, her workplace, and freed on $50,000 bail later in the day.

The Converse County Attorney’s Office ultimately offered a deferral on one count of third-degree sexual abuse, in part because of questions as to whether Marcus’ conduct was criminal.

In Wyoming, it’s generally legal for adults to have sex with consenting 17-year-olds. But there are exceptions, and prosecutors alleged Marcus broke the law by arguing that, as a teacher, she held a position of authority over the teen at the time she slept with him.

At Marcus’ sentencing, Judge Brooks said prosecutors “could or would” have had a problem proving Marcus held a position of authority at a trial. However, the judge also told Marcus that “while there may be some fair debate about whether your conduct here was criminal, there can be no debate that it was reprehensible.”

As part of Marcus’ conditions of probation, Brooks prohibited her from drinking alcohol. Although she hid it at the time, probation agents say Marcus has since admitted that she drank “on a daily basis” from her October 2016 sentencing through late July 2017.

An agent reportedly found a small amount of alcohol in Marcus’ fridge in December 2016. During a May 2017 visit, a breath test pegged her blood alcohol content at 0.148 percent — above the 0.08 percent concentration at which a person is considered too drunk to drive.

At the direction of Chief Deputy Converse County Attorney Joe Russell, Marcus’ supervision was increased.

Then, on July 29, 2017, she was arrested for stealing $157.18 worth of items from the Cody Walmart. Rather than seeking to revoke Marcus’ probation, Russell asked probation and parole to handle the arrest with internal sanctions “unless the cost of the stolen items was more than $500,” Juergens wrote.

A few days after being released on bond, Marcus texted Juergens and said she would be entering treatment. Then she reportedly dropped out of contact.

“It was not known until [Aug. 17, 2017], when Ms. Marcus’ husband called …, that Ms. Marcus had left the state of Wyoming, without permission, to attend inpatient at Rimrock Treatment in Billings,” Juergens wrote.

In late August, an agent submitted a sworn statement to Russell recommending Marcus’ probation be revoked because of the shoplifting and out-of-state travel, Juergens wrote; Russell declined to revoke her probation.

Probation and parole agents decided to boost Marcus’ probation to intensive supervised probation (ISP) in September, but her supervising agent left the department and “unfortunately, due to the high workload, ISP standards could not be enforced on Ms. Marcus,” Juergens wrote. “She has technically remained listed as an ISP offender, but has not been subject to the level of supervision ISP participants normally receive.”

However, one of Marcus’ attorneys, Lindsey Krause, described the restrictions as “extremely intensive supervised probation” at an early April sentencing hearing in Park County’s Circuit Court on the shoplifting charge.

At the hearing, Circuit Court Judge Bruce Waters credited Marcus for the three days she served in jail after her July 2017 arrest, ordered her to pay fines and restitution and placed her on six months of probation; Park County prosecutors unsuccessfully argued for Marcus to serve another 27 days in jail.

During her plea to Judge Waters, Marcus said she had basically been on “house arrest.” Marcus said she’d been unable to attend her daughters’ games and other functions until earning more privileges through “continuous compliance.”

However, agent Juergens says that in May, Marus admitted she had traveled to Billings at least twice to buy furniture and had gone places with her children despite being unsure if she had permission.

“Finally, Ms. Marcus admitted to being off of her ISP schedule an unknown number of times,” Juergens wrote.

Russell, the Converse County prosecutor, filed paperwork to start the process of revoking Marcus’ probation on June 11. She was arrested in Cody on June 20 and released on a $5,000 cash bond the following day.

A revocation hearing is set for Aug. 17 in Douglas.

In the meantime, Juergens’ letter to the judge said Marcus was being brought back to the starting level of intensive supervised probation “and will participate in the ISP program subject to the normal supervision contacts and requirement now that the Cody office is fully staffed.”

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