A former teacher in America charged with having sex with a student has avoided jail by marrying him.

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A former teacher in America charged with having sex with a student has avoided jail by marrying him.

Leah Gayle Shipman, 42, pleaded guilty on December 20 last year to a lesser charge after marrying Johnnie Ray Ison, now 19, in January 2011.

The marriage was two years after her arrest for having sex with the then 15-year-old student at a Wilmington high school, The Wilmington Star-News reports.

A prosecutor told the newspaper the marriage prevented the State from compelling Johnnie Ray to testify against Shipman.

Shipman divorced her husband of 19 years on January 19 2011 and married Johnnie Ray on January 25, 2011.

Under North Carolina law, the spouse of a defendant cannot be compelled to testify against the defendant in criminal cases or grand jury proceedings.

Brunswick County assistant district attorney general Gina Essey told The Wilmington Star-News that none of the statements previously made in the could would be admissable without the victim.

Simpson had faced 15 years jail.

When she pleaded guilty to the lesser charge Shipman was sentenced to a 30-day suspended jail sentence, a year of probation and $345 in restitution.

She was also ordered to surrender her teaching license.