by Cynthia Hunt
A former Tennessee High School math teacher is hitting the TV news airwaves in Nashville saying she is the victim, not the predator. Sandy Binkley is charged with statutory rape by an authority figure. Investigators say she had sex with one of her students in the classroom during school hours.
In an exclusive interview with the CBS affiliate in Nashville, Binkley says the 17-year-old student sexually assaulted her. "There was one incident with one student who was one month from being 18. He is bigger than me. He forced himself on me." Binkley told NewsChannel 5.
Watch the interview. If you were really raped by a student is that how you would talk about it with a reporter?
The student was a teacher's aid at Portland High School. During a hearing, court transcripts show the student testified, "She laid down on the desk and I began to have intercourse with her...she said her tubes were tied, which is why I didn't wear a condom. She said this isn't what you expected when you signed up for teacher's aid."
A grand jury indicted Binkley after hearing from that student and from investigators. After Binkley was charged, two other students came forward saying they also had sex with her. Binkley says the other students are lying to cover up for their friend. (Binkley's Mug Shot After Arrest in 2008)
What is unusual about this case is that Binkley's attorney is allowing his client to go on TV and defend herself months before her trial. He says he hopes someone in the community knows something about this he-said-she-said case to help clear his client.
As a viewer and a journalist, I watched the first part of the exclusive interview which aired last night. In my opinion, it didn't help the defense. Binkley did not come across as credible. She sat there holding her supportive husband's hand and talking about how this has devastated her life, but she didn't seem upset.
When you compare her interview with the student's testimony in court where the 17-year-old says Binkley told him she had her tubes tied, she looks even worse. Teenage boys just don't talk that way, which immediately leads me to believe she said what he claims she said.
Binkley also distrubed me when she smiled during the interview when saying she doesn't see herself as one of those attractive teachers like Pam Rogers who has victimized students. If she isn't guilty, then her attorneys made a categorically bad decision to let this woman go on TV. She should not smile about anything that relates to teachers molesting students.
Pam Rogers was a former beauty queen turned Tennessee teacher who is in prison after she was convicted of having sex with a 13-year-old student in 2006. (Pam Rogers in 2006)
She did make one good point in her disastrous interview. She said people often assume because a teacher is charged that he or she is guilty.
What frustrated me with the reporting on NewsChannel 5 and in The Tennessean newspaper is not one reporter has answered a blaring question: How did police find out about this case? Did Binkley, who says she is the victim, go to the police or did the rumorville around school lead police to investigate if this teacher was molesting her students? I would like to know how this investigation started. I am not saying I believe Binkley is guilty if she did not go to police. Many rape victims do not. However, it certainly hurts her case if she didn't since this does involve a student.
I am glad that Binkley can speak out and defend herself. That's her First Amendment right. I've seen it work well for many defendants, but I don't know what Binkley's attorneys were thinking in this case. I do know I will watch the second story to further test my theory that she isn't telling the truth.
Now it's your turn. Here's the link to her interview, what do you think?