SMITHFIELD, N.C. - A Johnston County teacher and wrestling coach accused of having sexual contact with a student with was back in court Thursday.
Twenty-five year old James McNamara is charged with one felony count of taking indecent liberties with a student. He taught at Corinth Holders High School just outside of Wendell.
The 16-year-old student testified against him Thursday during a probable cause hearing, telling a judge what happened between her and the teacher.
News 14 Carolina is not identifying her because she claims to be the victim of a sexual crime.
“Did you have a crush on the defendant,” Assistant District Attorney Kelly Sandling asked the girl.
“Yes ma'am,” she answered.
“And did you feel the defendant had a crush on you,” Sandling asked.
“Yes ma'am,” the student replied.
She told the judge McNamara gave her a ride home from school on March 1 and once there, the flirting back and forth turned physical. She said she drank some vodka, they kissed, and there was sexual touching.
“Why did you pour a shot of vodka,” Sandling asked her.
“Because I was really nervous and kind of feeling weird, so I thought it would calm me down,” she said.
“Why were you feeling weird,” Sandling asked.
“Because he was my teacher at one point and he was in my house and asking me to seduce him and making comments on my body,” she answered.
She described dancing for and near McNamara. She started sexually touching him, but became uncomfortable and stopped.
She said then McNamara started making the moves.
“He started to lift my dress up,” she said. “I then sat down on his lap. He started to touch and kiss on my breast. My bra was still on and then he started trying to take it off.”
The student said she felt uncomfortable again, so she stopped him and he left.
But under cross-examination, the girl admitted she wasn't always truthful. She said she regularly lied to her teachers in order to go see McNamara during school, and lied repeatedly when questioned about the day he drove her home.
“She told this court today under oath, she lies repeatedly,” defense attorney Jack O'Hale told the judge in closing. “She lies to her mother. She lies to her teachers. Evidently, she lies to her friends.”
The defense argued there wasn't any physical evidence of a sexual encounter and the charges should be dropped.
But prosecutors said McNamara's cell phone records support the student's story.
The judge decided there was enough evidence for probable cause. It will now go to the grand jury for indictment.
It was a disappointing decision for McNamara's supporters.
“The girl, it just seems, she had a crush on him and when things didn't turn out the way she wanted it to turn out, she just had to make up a story so she wouldn't look ridiculous in front of her friends,” said Cheryl Kemp, a family friend.
McNamara is still suspended with pay from Johnston County Schools until June 13. In a statement from the school system, spokeswoman Terri Sessoms said, “He has requested that his [employment] contract not be renewed and the superintendent has accepted that request.”
McNamara's family said he will try to put all this behind him, at least for the weekend. He's getting married on Sunday.