gavel

OBION COUNTY, TN — A former teacher who was forced to resign amid statutory rape accusations is suing the former student who accused her.

Last month, 48-year-old Mary Beth McManus was arrested and charged with three counts of statutorily raping a 16-year-old student in 2012.

On Tuesday, McManus filed a lawsuit against her accuser who is now an adult, and the accuser's girlfriend. 

The lawsuit says the student was a junior in 2011 at Obion County Central High School and taking McManus' Spanish class.

During that time, the suit says, McManus learned that the student's parents had passed away and she was now living with her adult brother. The student told McManus that her brother treated her badly and that she was unhappy living in his home.

In May 2012, the student was allowed to move in with McManus and her family.

The suit says the student then graduated high school and, with financial help from the McManus family, was able to attend Middle Tennessee State University. The student graduated with an undergraduate degree in biology, and decided to remain at Middle Tennessee State University to pursue a master's degree in biology. The McManuses continued to financially support the student as she continued her education.

Sometime shortly before April 2018, the suit says, the student began dating a woman, who moved from Alabama into the student's apartment.

During the same time period, the suit says McManus told the student she would end her financial assistance after the student graduated with her master's degree.

Then, in early 2019, the student and her girlfriend allegedly told McManus they would fabricate a statutory rape accusation against her if the family did not continue to provide the student with financial assistance.

The lawsuit says the student and her girlfriend recorded McManus and then manipulated those recordings to make it sound like McManus was confessing to a sexual relationship with the student.

The suit says the student, with the girlfriend's help, then made a report of statutory rape to the Obion County Sheriff's Department on May 7, 2019.

McManus was arrested and charged with three counts of statutory rape on June 5, 2019. She no longer worked at Obion County Central at the time, but was a teacher at Union City High School.

After she was arrested, McManus was put on unpaid leave from her job at Union City High School and was later forced to resign.

The lawsuit accuses the student and her girlfriend of slander, conspiracy, and intentional or reckless infliction of emotional distress.

The suit seeks $3 million in damages, saying the women's actions cost McManus her job, damaged her reputation and resulted in public humiliation and emotional distress — in addition to the criminal charges she faces.