Former Estill County teacher pleads guilty to some charges in sex message scandal

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IRVINE, Ky. (FOX 56) – The attorney for a former Estill County teacher accused of not reporting sexual messages between a student and a man she is dating says a guilty plea was entered Friday to some of the charges, while others were dismissed.

Michael F. Eubanks represents Sherry Murphy, who was indicted on charges of unlawful transaction with a minor, tampering with physical evidence and failure to report child abuse.

A Kentucky State Police investigation revealed that Torstein Torsteinson, a Honduran immigrant in the US on a work visa, contacted a student on Facebook in an attempt to have sex in 2018. His attempts were unsuccessful, so he got in a relationship with then teacher Sherry Murphy. Troopers say Murphy was aware of the messages, but she did not report it to authorities.

In a statement to FOX 56, Eubanks detailed what happened in court Friday. Previously, the Commonwealth had returned a 13 count superseding indictment. 

  • Count 1, complicity to commit unlawful use of electronic means to induce a minor to engage in sexual activities, was dismissed. 
  • Counts 2 and 3, tampering with physical evidence, GUILTY. 
  • Count 4, failure to report child abuse, dismissed. 
  • Counts 5, 10, 11, 12, and 13, alleging unlawful transaction with a minor, illegal sex acts, under 18, amended to wanton endangerment, 1st, one year on each count. 
  • Counts 6, 7, 8, and 9, alleging solicitation to commit unlawful use of electronic means to induce a minor to engage in sexual activities, were all dismissed. 

The total plea is 10 years, diverted for 5 years.  The diversion is to be supervised and a condition of the diversion was that Ms. Murphy surrender her Kentucky Teaching Certificate. Eubanks added “Ms. Murphy did not enter a plea to any charge alleging some form of complicity, solicitation or unlawful transaction with minor to commit a sex act.”

Murphy is set to be sentenced on January 4.  

Torstienson was charged with unlawful transaction with a minor and tampering with physical evidence.

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