What the hell??
A longtime elementary school teacher whose repeated sexual encounters with a 12-year-old student came to light following a high-speed chase in which she let the boy drive her SUV was sentenced Tuesday to 10 years in prison.
Lucinda Rodriguez Caldwell, 41, choked back sobs as she was placed in handcuffs after asking state District Judge Lori Valenzuela for probation.
Although the judge denied the request, she did retain jurisdiction of the case, leaving open the possibility that Caldwell could be released from prison on shock probation sometime in the next six months.
“I just want to say that I’m sorry for what I did and I apologize to the court, to (the child) and his family, and to my family,” Caldwell said through tears during the brief sentencing hearing.
“I have lost so much because of what I did, and I ask the court to let me stay with my family and take care of my children,” she said.
Caldwell had been an educator for 16 years and was teaching fifth grade at Cable Elementary in the Northside Independent School District when she was arrested in July 2010 after the boy’s father took him to police to report the sexual assaults.
Earlier that morning, at about 3 a.m., the father had recognized the teacher’s Ford Explorer outside his house after realizing that his son wasn’t home, court documents state.
The SUV sped off and the father pursued in his own vehicle for about 30 miles before both vehicles were pulled over in Hondo.
The traffic officer didn’t make an immediate arrest but returned the boy to his father and advised him to contact the San Antonio Police Department, according to court documents.
Caldwell reached a plea agreement in October in which she agreed to plead no contest to indecency with child by exposure — a third-degree felony — instead of aggravated sexual assault of a child, which could have resulted in a sentence of up to life.
Both sides also agreed to a 10-year sentence, with the stipulation that prosecutors would remain silent as Caldwell asked the judge to let her serve the term on probation. In addition, Caldwell agreed to surrender her teaching certificate.
Neither Caldwell’s accuser nor his family attended the hearing.
“We felt like we had a good case, but the family was worried about putting the young boy through the emotional ordeal of a trial,” First Assistant District Attorney Cliff Herberg said of the plea agreement. “We wanted to be respectful of the family’s desires.”
After the allegations were revealed, the boy appeared to withdraw from friends and family, prosecutors said they were told by the family.
Although the boy has since made progress, his father feared that testifying at a trial would cause setbacks, according to Adriana Biggs, chief of the white-collar-crimes division.
Since the arrest, Caldwell and her two children have moved to Eagle Pass. Her husband testified on her behalf Tuesday, suggesting that her “exemplary record” as a teacher prior to the incident provided a more accurate portrayal of who she is.
“She was by all accounts a very good, dedicated teacher,” added defense attorney John Carroll. “The public humiliation and shame has been very difficult for her to deal with.”
She’s got some dayum nerve asking the Judge for fawking probation!
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