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Teacher Denies Student Sex Allegations

Twenty-six year-old Nicole Howell was living her dream as a high school English teacher last year in Dayton, Ky. when everything she worked for came undone.

In December, CBS News correspondent Cynthia Bowers reported, rumors began to fly that she was having sex with a 16-year-old football player at the school. She reported the rumors to the principal -- only to end up being suspended a few days later.

Then, in January, Covington County police arrested Howell and charged her with first-degree sexual abuse. Police say the teenage accuser claims the two had sex four or five times at her apartment last fall.

But Howell, in an exclusive interview with "The Early Show" Tuesday, denied the claims, saying there's no evidence in the case against her.

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Howell said she heard a rumor going around the school about a teacher having a threesome with two students. One of the students rumored to be involved in the threesome, Howell said, approached her with the news.

"(He came to) me and told me and said, 'Miss Howell, I think you should know about this, because I don't think it's very fair that they're saying this, because it's not true.' So that's when I reported it."

Howell said she went to the principal, who investigated the allegations.

"He, in fact, interviewed the kids. Both of them denied the rumors," she said. "They said that they had never had sex with me, and my accuser said that he had never had sex with me, adamantly denied it to the principal and (to) his football coach. And the principal actually told me later on that he had also looked into all of the rumors and he had found them to be untrue, as well."

Howell's accuser has also alleged a text messaging relationship with the teacher.

Howell, who worked as an assistant cheerleading coach, said the teen took her phone number when she left her phone unattended, and began texting her. She said the messages were "very platonic."

She said, referring to the text messages' content, " 'Hi, how are you? How are things going?' There was never anything written in any of those texts that ... suggested anything."

She added no records exist of any of the text messages.

Howell's lawyer, Eric Deters, told "Early Show" co-anchor Harry Smith the case being brought against Howell is based all on the teenager's word.

Deters compared the case against Howell to the Duke lacrosse case, in which rape charges against the accused players wound up being dropped.

"There is absolutely no evidence to support these allegations," he said.

Deters said Howell's accuser described her apartment, where they allegedly had sex, as having a bedroom and a TV.

"He (left out) things like she has dogs, and she has this and she has that," he said.

Deters added her accuser left out identifying birthmarks on Howell's body, including a skin graft from a serious car accident.

"He claims he had sex," Deters said, "but what happened is he found out he was going to get expelled, so he made the rumor again. That's what happened. So they're basing it all on this boy."

Howell's trial is scheduled to start in October. If convicted, she could face one-to-five years in prison. A person convicted of first-degree sexual abuse would also have to register as a sex offender for 20 years.

Kenton County, Ky. Prosecutor Rob Sanders released a statement saying, "The Kentucky code of ethics prevents me from making pretrial statement on the evidence of a pending case. Defense counsel is ignoring that rule in an effort to try this in the media."

Photos: Notorious Teacher Sex Scandals

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