CLEVELAND — A former substitute teacher who became pregnant during an affair with a 17-year-old high school football player was sentenced on Tuesday to three days in jail and five years of probation.
Christine Scarlett, 40, pleaded guilty May 11 to five felony charges — three counts of sexual battery and two counts of disseminating obscene materials to a juvenile. The charges carried a potential 17 years in prison.
Judge Dick Ambrose said he ordered probation because Scarlett had no previous criminal record and has obligations as a mother. She has a 3-year-old son from the relationship and two other children with her husband.
"This court has no desire to punish the child who is the innocent victim of this relationship," Ambrose said.
Scarlett was placed in handcuffs after Ambrose ordered her to begin her jail sentence immediately. He said the sentence was to remind her that violating probation could send her to jail for three years.
The student, now 22, was at suburban Strongsville High School when the relationship with Scarlett began. She stayed with her husband despite the affair. The Associated Press generally does not identify victims of sex crimes.
The student and his mother explained in court that he was unable to think through what was happening with the teacher because he had suffered brain damage at birth. His mother told the judge that she met with Scarlett at a school conference, explained her son's mental limitations and had hoped the teacher would be helpful.
'You knew I had brain problems'
The student read a prepared statement in which he referred to the past four years as a nightmare for his family.
"You should have been helping me, because you were my teacher," he said, addressing Scarlett. "You knew I had brain problems, and you were so much older than I was."
Before she was sentenced, Scarlett apologized to the student and his parents.
"There's not a day that goes by that I don't feel sorry," she said, her voice cracking with emotion.
"I should have behaved differently. I will always have to live with the fact that I did the wrong thing," Scarlett said. She also described her son as amazing.
The judge told Scarlett she violated the trust society places in teachers.
"You used that position to pursue your own desires, your self interest and power over a student. I believe that in cases like this it is more about power than it is about sex," Ambrose said.
Ambrose is also requiring Scarlett to register as a sexually oriented offender and disclose her place of residence to law enforcement.
As part of her sentence, Scarlett must serve 180 days of home electronic detention, complete 300 hours of community service and make financial restitution for the student's counseling, an amount not yet determined.
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