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Witness describes alleged sexual assault by former teacher

ALPENA - A witness described sex toys, secret rendezvous, and extended sexual encounters between a teacher and a child in Alpena's 26th Circuit Court on Thursday in the trial of former Alpena Public Schools teacher Heather Winfield, accused of sexually assaulting a student when he was between 11 and 13 years old.

In a daylong testimony, the now-17-year-old said his 6th-grade special education teacher in 2016 first invited him into her home and then enticed him into a sexual relationship that, according to him, lasted two years and sometimes involved numerous sexual encounters per day.

The News does not identify alleged survivors of sexual assault.

Winfield denies the accusations, describing her relationship with the boy as one of caring for a troubled child with a difficult past and home life.Witness describes alleged sexual assault by former teacher

On Thursday, under a day of questioning by Alpena County Prosecutor Cynthia Muszynski, Winfield's former student said his relationship with Winfield first moved outside the classroom as the two shared hot chocolate and cookies at a local fast food restaurant.

Shortly thereafter, Winfield introduced the student to her family and invited him on family outings, including camping trips and a trip to Disneyland over spring break of 2016, he testified.

The alleged victim described expensive gifts from Winfield and nights he spent at her house, sleeping on a basement couch. According to the witness, Winfield first approached him sexually in the summer of 2016, when he was 11, when he woke up to find her rubbing against him in a sexual manner.

The two had sex in a camper shortly thereafter, on July 2 of 2016, the witness claimed.Witness describes alleged sexual assault by former teacher

In the ensuing months, the alleged victim said, he and Winfield had sex "too many times to count," often three to seven times a day in multiple rooms in Winfield's house.

Closely questioned by Muszynski as to how they could escape observation, the witness said Winfield performed oral sex on him while he reclined on a couch with Winfield's husband in the same room and able to see the encounter.

In October 2016, when a former girlfriend showed school officials social media messages she said were between Winfield and the male student, school officials and police launched an investigation, and Winfield resigned.

In the courtroom on Thursday, Muszynski asked the witness to read some of the messages, as furnished by the school. The messages indicated late-night, hours-long phone calls between Winfield and the student.Witness describes alleged sexual assault by former teacher

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Messages allegedly written by Winfield expressed love for the then-11-year-old and asked for affirmation of love in return. One message spoke of July 2 as a memorable occasion, and another included a photo of what the witness said was fluid on a bed.

After the investigations began in the fall of 2016, the witness claimed, Winfield took him to hotels because they were not allowed to contact each other. At one hotel, he said, they had sex 12 times in one night.

Later that year, he said, Winfield showed him how to use sex toys in his grandparents' house while the grandparents were in another room.Witness describes alleged sexual assault by former teacher

In June 2018, according to the alleged victim, he and Winfield had a fight, during which he slapped her because she wouldn't leave. Shortly thereafter, he told family members Winfield had sexually assaulted him, and the family members reported his story to the police.

Muszynski showed the jury two photos the witness said Winfield sent him, one alleged to show Winfield's nude torso and the other of a pregnancy test.

The jury watched a brief video the witness said he captured on his phone. The video showed a hand pulling down the neckline of Winfield's sweater in an attempt to expose her breast as she sat on a couch and Winfield pushing the alleged victim away, telling him to stop.

Testimony by Winfield's former student continues today. Attorneys expect the trial to last at least another week.

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