This is a rush transcript from "Hannity & Colmes," August 27, 2007. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated
ALAN COLMES, CO-HOST: Five years ago, French teacher Joelle Ogletree was accused of having sex with three students at a high school in Texas. Ogletree, maintaining her innocence, refused to accept the prosecutor's plea deal, and by the time the trial rolled around, one student admitted to lying and the other two were discredited.
Ogletree, who is currently suing the school district for wrongful termination, joins us now, along with her lawyer, Henry Jones.
We welcome you both. Joelle, how did this get started? Why did these students, since discredited, start this rumor about you?
JOELLE OGLETREE, CLEARED OF HAVING SEX WITH STUDENTS: Well, no one can really say for sure to that except the students themselves. One of the students, the one who did recant and was willing to talk about it, said that he felt pressure to make the allegations from the administration of the school.
The other two students who have not recanted, you know, I don't know why they initially made the allegations. I do know from documents that they were initially interviewed by the school district together in the same room, which in my opinion, would make it harder to back down from something that you've already been saying.
COLMES: I understand the school district called them in 10, 20 times, tried to intimidate them into saying certain things. You spent more than $100,000, refinanced your home twice in order to defend yourself. You got your license back, but they still won't give you your job back.
OGLETREE: Right. Well, they won't even let me volunteer at the elementary school with my daughter.
COLMES: Counselor, Mr. Jones, what legal recourse do you have? Can she give her job back? And if the school says, "No, we still believe these kids," [which] apparently is what some of the school people are saying, what do you do about it?
HENRY JONES, LAWYER: We're not going away. We're going to seek justice. What happened to her, she was "Nifonged." They just rushed to judgment without any notice of who her accusers were, what the accusations were. They fired her in a couple of days.
What we're saying is, no, you should have gone through the process. We believe in the process. We don't think that, had these things been tested early on, they would have stood up.
HANNITY: Hey, Joelle, what I found pretty interesting about your story and fascinating about your story is your lawyer begged you to take a plea deal. Your husband begged you to take a plea deal, said, "We can move, we can get out, we can start a new life." But you said no.
And this was — you didn't know that one of the boys had already recanted at some church retreat event. Why would you risk, you know, all these years, potentially, in jail and go with your gut and not take the deal?
OGLETREE: That's a good question. Honestly, I don't know how I did that. All of my family at some point — and my husband and myself, we went back and forth: do you take it, do you not take it? In one way, it's crazy, absolutely crazy...
OGLETREE: ... when you're offered no jail time whatsoever, to not take that and risk...
HANNITY: Go ahead.
OGLETREE: ... risk what 12 people are going to think of you.
OGLETREE: You could spend the rest of your life in prison. I was facing 120 years.
HANNITY: And you were totally ostracized in the community there. What specifically — I know there was a moment where kids were over at your house, moving a piano or something. What specifically the charges? What did they say you did?
OGLETREE: Oh, they ranged —everything — basically everything imaginable, from kissing to intercourse.
HANNITY: Yes, but yet they recant the story here. Remember — I don't know if you remember during the Reagan years, there was a guy by the name of Ray Donovan. And when he was exonerated, he comes down the courthouse steps, and the first words out of his mouth, "How do I — where do I go to get my good name back?"
You know, I think this is an example that people in the media, in towns, they need to be very careful when they believe charges. Would that be your admonition to people?
OGLETREE: Yes, people rush to judgment. Automatically, you assume guilt. If there's an allegation made, guilt is assumed.
OGLETREE: And people hopefully can start to change.
HANNITY: But I've got to tell you, it was risky. You went with your gut. You knew you were innocent. And...
HANNITY: But everyone's advising you to take a deal and go on with your life. I think that's...
OGLETREE: I felt that...
HANNITY: I think never doubt yourself may be another lesson in all this. So...
OGLETREE: Yes. I felt that it would have been the wrong thing. My brain told me to take it, but I just couldn't. And so I felt that I could not do what I felt was wrong to do.
COLMES: It seems like you did the right thing. Thank you very much. Be well.
And Mr. Jones, Harry, thank you, as well, for being with us.
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