Cherokee Teacher Accused of Sexually Exploiting Minor Pleads Guilty to Lesser Charge

A Cherokee High School teacher accused of sexually exploiting a minor has pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of harassment.

A motion to withdraw a previous motion for dismissal was entered on Monday by 46-year-old Joseph Vannatta. He entered a new written guilty plea to a lesser harassment charge, which is an aggravated misdemeanor. Jail time is no longer being sought by the state. As part of a plea agreement, Vannatta faces a two-year probation and a five-year no-contact order. Vannatta’s sentence will also include the state minimum on the fines. Vannatta was originally charged with one count of Sexual Exploitation by a School Employee, a class D felony, which would have meant a prison sentence of up to five years.

Vannatta previously pleaded guilty and requested dismissal of the case. In new court filings, both sides agree that the facts of the case do not constitute a sexually motivated offense. He was let go by the Cherokee School District shortly after his arrest.

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