Stephenie Ringwald carried a small bag with books and clothing in it when she walked into the Carter County Courthouse. Turned out she didn’t need to pack big for her new place of residence.
Ringwald pled guilty on two charges of second-degree rape Monday afternoon as part of a plea deal in front of Assistant District Judge Charles Migliorino. As part of the plea, Ringwald will be remanded into the custody of the Department of Corrections where she will serve 10 years, all but one suspended. She was also fined $100 in fines and will have to register as a sex offender. The charges were based out of Murray County, but both parties agreed to a change of venue.
Two charges of forcible sodomy were dismissed with state paying the court costs as well as one charge of sexual assault and five charges of soliciting sexual conduct or communication with a minor by use of technology. Migliorino said the charges were dismissed with prejudice meaning they cannot be brought up again.  
A prior sentence for furnishing an alcoholic beverage of a minor in Carter County will be served concurrently.
In making a statement to Migliorino, Ringwald said on two separate occasions she had consensual sex with a 17-½ year old student that she did not teach, but attended the school district where she taught. Ringwald was a middle school teacher and cheer coach at Dickson Public Schools before she resigned from her position in August, 2013. In early September 2013, the Carter County Sheriff’s Department and Murray County Sheriff’s Department announced criminal investigations into allegations of misconduct.
Bridgit and Jason Vaughn were in attendance along with a number of Dickson parents. Bridgit Vaughn was one of the parents to take their concerns about Ringwald’s actions with students to then superintendent Sherry Howe in 2013.
“I believe justice was done,” she said. “Hopefully, this will set an example. It was worth it. We stood up for what is right.”
“It would have been nice to see her serve more time but she is in handcuffs,” Jason Vaughn added.
Rather than be returned to Murray County, Ringwald was booked into the Carter County Detention Center where she will await transfer into the Department of Corrections.
District Attorney Craig Ladd said the focus was on the rape charges in explaining why the other charges were dismissed. Those charges of sexual battery and soliciting sexual conduct charges evolved around Ringwald’s relationship with a 16-year-old co-worker at Braum’s in Sulphur after the rape charges had been filed.
“This seemed like the more egregious charge,” he said. “The age of consent is 16 in Oklahoma. Because the victim was a student, it was illegal.
“Great deliberation was given to what would be the appropriate way to resolve this case. We met with the parents and everyone was in agreement that this was fair.”
Ladd said he felt the ongoing legal situation with Ringwald tested the patience of the parents of the victims and it also tested his patience. In the end, Ladd said he felt if Ringwald pled this week, it would allow the case to be resolved and put to rest.
Richard O’Carroll, Ringwald’s attorney, said the plea bargain was the best they could get but was prepared to go to trial.
“She (Ringwald) is a decent lady, more so than her situation indicates,” he said. “This is not the sum of her life and my heart goes out to her family.”
O’Carroll said he asked the family not to come into the courtroom and said they have been supportive. After the plea was completed, O’Carroll went outside and met with the family.
The Vaughns said the legal experience has been an ordeal and there have been threats. Jason Vaughn said there have been a couple of threats against their daughter by a member of Ringwald’s family.
“The last time, she said, ‘I hope you don’t think you are safe now,’” Vaughn said.
Ladd said he has a report on the incident and has offered a deferred prosecution agreement, which would include fees and probation.