A former culinary arts school teacher, Nichole Noel Thiel, was accused by her former student of having sex with him when he was 16 years old at her condominium in Idaho for a period lasting over two years. Thiel was 46 years old when the incidents allegedly took place.
The teen said it all started when he came across the teacher crying and upset and he gave her a hug. He said that she kissed him on the cheek and later he claimed she picked him up from his father’s home to take him back to her Coeur d’Alene home to have sex. He wouldn’t report the incident to his school counselor until the following year.
Thiel maintained her innocence throughout the investigation and trial. Due to the time that had passed, investigators were not able to find any physical evidence of the crime, so prosecutors were forced to rely almost entirely upon the testimony of witnesses. Throughout the trial, Thiel relied upon the support of her friends, colleagues, and family. From others, opinions of Thiel were harsh. Allegations of adults having sex with minors creates a sense of disgust, hysteria, and drives a “guilty-until-proven-innocent” rush to judgement from many in the community. Simply being arrested for a crime is often enough to convince people of guilt. Throughout the trial, criminal defense attorney Michael G. Palmer fought for Thiel’s innocence and realized she was faced with a teen who said that the sex happened and the only way to be acquitted was to somehow prove it didn’t.