(Tavares, Florida) Forty-year-old English teacher and cheer coach formerly at Eustis High School, Laura Lea Pace, was sentenced yesterday for engaging in sex with two schoolboys.
With both boys and their parents watching, Pace burst into tears near the end of the four-hour sentencing hearing in Lake County, fumbling to explain her behavior and apologizing to the teens and to her own family.Defense lawyers unsuccessfully sought a community-control sentence for Pace since she was diagnosed with major depressive, anxiety and attention-deficit disorders. Prosecutors contended that Pace was predatory. She was ordered to register as a sex offender when released from prison and to wear an ankle monitor.
"I really am sorry," she said, sobbing loudly. "I can't blame anybody else but me…I understand I was the adult and it was my responsibility to know that there are boundaries and you do not cross them. I crossed them."
Circuit Judge Mark Nacke, who listened to testimony from two therapists who have worked closely with Pace, imposed the 24-month prison term to be followed by 10 years of sex-offender probation. He could have sentenced her to more than 20 years in prison if he had strictly followed Florida sentencing guidelines.
The victims were 15 and 16 when they had sex with Pace during the 2007-08 school year.
Florida Teacher Guilty of Sex with Two Boys - Updated
[Previous 11/28/09 post]
(Tavares, Florida) Forty-year-old teacher formerly at Eustis High School, Laura Lea Pace, pleaded guilty this week to lewd and lascivious battery of a child, showing obscene material to a minor, unlawful sexual activity with a minor and contributing to the delinquency of a minor.
Pace also pleaded no contest to providing marijuana to a person younger than 18.
Some of the sexual trysts occurred at Pace's home in Sorrento, according to a probable-cause affidavit that accused her of smoking marijuana with the boys and offering them Xanax, a prescription amphetamine.A weepy Pace needed to be steadied by her attorney during the proceeding in which Circuit Judge Mark Nacke informed her that she would be ordered to register as a sex offender. Pace had no comment.
According to Assistant State Attorney Sara Jane Olson, Pace may have engaged in grade-fixing to reward her schoolboy lovers, an "absolute abuse of trust."
A sentencing date has yet to be scheduled.
Florida Teacher Accused of Sex with Two Boys
[Previous 10/17/08 post]
(Eustis, Florida) A 38-year-old teacher at Eustis High School, Laura Pace, has been accused of engaging in sex and smoking marijuana with two of her 16-year-old male students. The alleged offenses occurred during the 2007-08 school year.
Pace has been charged with five counts of unlawful sexual activity with a minor and two counts of contributing to the delinquency of a minor.
One victim provided investigators with a hand-written letter Pace left in his mailbox, detailing their sexual involvement, according to Sgt. John Herrell with the Sheriff's Office.Pace is in custody. The Lake County Sheriff's Office continues investigating.
Pace, an English teacher, was reassigned to a position with no student contact when the Sheriff's Office began investigating allegations against her earlier this month.