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Former South teacher pleads guilty to third-degree sexual assault

PARKERSBURG — A former Parkersburg South High School teacher pleaded guilty to third-degree sexual assault in a case the county prosecutor said involves a student.

Wood County Magistrate Court records show Abby E. Gonzales, 23, entered the plea Monday and was sentenced to 90 days in jail, suspended for two years of unsupervised probation and assessed $270.25 in fines and court costs. The charge also carries a lifetime requirement to register as a sex offender and a forfeiture of Gonzales’ teaching license, Wood County Prosecutor Pat Lefebure said.

The incident was reported in the spring, Lefebure said. No charge was filed, and Gonzales essentially pleaded guilty to an information, he said.

Magistrate Court officials declined to provide a copy of the criminal complaint in the case, citing a new state law that recently went into effect making records maintained by courts and law enforcement agencies confidential if they “contain identifying information of a victim in an arrest, investigation or complaint” for various sexual offenses, including sexual assault, child pornography and human trafficking.

Lefebure said he was also limited in what he could disclose about the case because of that law.

He said the case involved a teacher and student, but did not say whether it took place on or off school property. He added there has been a lack of cooperation with the investigation by some parties.

Gonzales is no longer employed by Wood County Schools, said Michael Erb, coordinator of communications for Wood County Schools. She was on the school board’s June 14 agenda for a transfer from South, as a multi-categorical teacher, to a pre-kindergarten position at Jefferson Elementary Center.

“That same day, she resigned,” Erb said. “There was no explanation to her resignation.”

A call to Gonzales’ attorney, Bill Merriman, was not immediately returned Tuesday afternoon.

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