A former social studies teacher accused of sexually abusing and assaulting female students at a Rio Rico middle school waived a preliminary hearing this week, sending his case to Superior Court without prosecutors having to convince a justice of the peace that they have probable cause to charge him.

Jeffrey Lawrence, 50, of Rio Rico, had originally been set for a preliminary, probable cause hearing on March 20 in front of Justice of the Peace Mary Helen Maley. The hearing was postponed until April 18, and then postponed again until Wednesday, May 30. However, court records show that Lawrence then waived his right to a preliminary hearing on Wednesday, sending the case to Superior Court where prosecutors will either have to convince a jury that he is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, or convince him to sign a plea agreement.

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