Lawyers: Teacher victim, not students

LEBANON, Ohio - The former Mason High School teacher accused of having sex with high school students and providing them with alcohol has turned the tables on her accusers.

Her attorneys now say she was the victim.

This twist in the case comes just hours after Stacy Schuler changed her plea from not guilty to not guilty by reason of insanity.

Her attorneys, Charlie H. Rittgers and Charlie M. Rittgers filed paperwork in Warren County Court to change the plea.

The Rittgers' wrote the following statement to the media to give some explanation to the plea. They did not elaborate.

"Stacy Schuler is a 33-year-old teacher who devoted her life to helping and caring for others. It has come to light that during the period of the alleged misconduct, Stacy Schuler had become impaired and thereby unable to prevent the young men from taking advantage of her. In the fall of 2010, the young men involved in this case traveled across the county in order to take advantage of her impairment. Stacy Schuler's defense from a legal standpoint is based upon her inability to protect herself from the young men involved in this case."

Warren County Prosecutor David Fornshell calls the plea change "interesting." He says people who know Schuler didn't notice her behavior change during the alleged crimes.

"The story changes from, no, she didn't do it, to, no, she suffers from some type of mental illness that caused her to not understand what she did was wrong. That to me is a very interesting development this late stage in the process," said Fornshell.

Fornshell says he doesn't think the judge should allow the plea change this close the trial. The trial is set to start in August 8.

The plea change would likely delay the process because there can be up to three competency evaluations ordered. Fornshell says he'd prefer the trial start as scheduled. Some of the young men who will be called as witnesses in the trial will start college in the fall.

This will be addressed during Schuler's next court hearing. That is scheduled for July 21.

Schuler is out of jail on bond. She is on an electronic monitoring device and was ordered to stay away from anyone under the age of 19, except family members.

The investigation started in January when Mason school officials say they got a tip about a teacher allegedly having inappropriate sexual contact with students.

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