Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Florida Teacher Gets No Jail for Sex with Boy

(Tampa, Florida) Teacher Christina Butler, 34, dodged a bullet today during sentencing in Hillsborough County Circuit Court.

For convictions on two felony counts of unlawful sexual activity with a minor, which can carry possible punishment of 30 years in prison, Butler received probation from Judge J. Rogers Padgett.

It was boo-hoos and sniffles in court today as Butler was supported by friends, coworkers and two clinical psychologists, all intent on convincing Padgett that she shouldn't go to prison. Testimony covered Butler's reported variety of mental problems, including bipolar disorder.
Clinical psychologists Eldra Solomon and Yolanda Leon testified that Butler couldn't get the medication and therapy she needs in prison.

Solomon said the combination of mental problems and brain injury compromised her ability to make mature decisions.

"The whole thing doesn't fit with who she is," she said. "I really fear for her life if she's sent to prison."

Testimony showed Butler has been suicidal since her arrest.

The psychologists said Butler was not equipped to handle a high school classroom. They said she didn't have the training, experience or support.
Despite the argument of Asst. State Attorney Anthony Duran who said that some jail time is warranted, Judge Padgett was swayed by the sob story and even concluded by suggesting that the 16-year-old victim was responsible for the criminal acts.

Butler's sentence will include five years of probation, continued mental health counseling and registration as a sex offender. Butler was not punished for two misdemeanor counts of contributing to the delinquency of a minor and allowing an unlicensed driver to operate her car.

In all candor, I'm not surprised in the least that Butler gets no jail. Remember, the jurisdiction is Hillsborough County, the same location where teacher Debra Lafave who, by the way also claimed to be bipolar, received no jail for committing child sex crimes. Not only that, but the same judge who shortened Lafave's house arrest presided over Butler's case, Judge J. Rogers Padgett.
As an aside, it's curious that psychologists are experts at the requirements for classroom teaching. Maybe they could weigh in on the problems with the New York Times and tell everyone why its financial statements are taking a beating. Then maybe they could stop by the Supreme Court and inform them on how they should do their jobs. Experts at everything, they are. Just ask them.
Obviously, I'm skeptical of pronouncements from psychologists, particularly in the courtroom.


* * * * *

Florida Teacher Accused of Sex with Boy
[Previous 10/24/07 post bumped]
(Tampa, Florida) A 33-year-old special education teacher at Middleton High School, Christina Butler, was arrested for allegedly engaging in sex with one of her 15-year-old male students.

Butler's alleged sex offense came to light by chance on Tuesday night. Police casually noticed six boys on bicycles disappear in one direction down a road and later saw the same boys returning in an erratically-driven Jeep Cherokee.
Police stopped the Jeep, and the driver told them he didn't have a license, but his friend Christina had let him borrow the car. Officers then discovered that the vehicle belonged to Butler.

Butler was called to the scene, and while police were waiting for her, they say one of the boys told them the driver had a relationship with the teacher. The officers became suspicious, and after questioning Butler they say she admitted to having a sexual relationship with the driver.
Butler was then arrested and booked into the Hillsborough County Jail. She was later released on bond.

Butler faces charges of lewd and lascivious battery of a child.


[Update 10/26/07]

An interesting new element has surfaced regarding the Butler story.
About three weeks ago, 15-year-old Shatavia Kendricks mentioned to her mother rumors about a special education teacher having sex with a student at Middleton High School.

Each day, she would come home with more to the story: The teacher let boys look up inappropriate Web sites and hold the teacher's cell phone and keys. Girls weren't given the same treatment.

Shatavia's mother, Thelma Reeves, said she told her daughter to tell the assistant principal. And the girl said she did, twice.

Word got to principal Carl Green. But the teacher and student both denied it.

Shatavia kept talking, and Green suspended her until she and a guardian could meet with him - which took more than a week.
So the appropriate authorities were notified and they essentially disregarded the claims and suspended the conscientious girl. I think the school system has some 'splainin' to do.


[Update 10/24/08]

Yesterday before Hillsborough County Circuit Judge J. Rogers Padgett, Christina Butler pleaded guilty to two counts of felony unlawful sexual activity with a minor. Sentencing has been scheduled for December. She faces a possible 30 years in prison. (H/T: Watchman)

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