SPRINGFIELD, Mass. – A former teacher who ran off with a male student and pleaded guilty to statutory rape charges was given probation Wednesday by a judge who said he does not see her as a sexual predator.
Lisa Lavoie, a former teacher at a Holyoke elementary school, was charged in 2009 after she and a 15-year-old boy were reported missing and found a week later in a motel in Morgantown, W.Va. The 25-year-old Lavoie pleaded guilty last month to three counts of statutory rape and one count of enticement of a child under the age of 16.
Prosecutors asked Judge Cornelius Moriarty to sentence Lavoie to three to five years in state prison.
But Moriarty, saying he does not think Lavoie will reoffend, spared her jail time and sentenced her instead to five years of probation. He said Lavoie's conduct was "seriously exacerbated by the fact that she was a teacher."
He said that in most cases involving adults having sexual relations with children, it is an adult male and the motivation is more likely to be sexual gratification. "But I find this is not the case; in fact, it's quite the contrary," he said.
Moriarty said he thinks Lavoie's "interest and concern for (the boy's) emotional well-being was what originally began this episode," which he said "was originally well-intended." He said it appears Lavoie's kindness toward the boy was what led to his sexual interest in her.
"There are those who perhaps will say this sentence is too lenient," Moriarty said.
"This too shall pass," he told Lavoie.
Hampden District Attorney Mark Mastroianni said in a statement that his office's recommendation of a three-to-five-year sentence was consistent with sentencing guidelines established for judges in Massachusetts.
"Given the information available to me, I see no reason for the imposition of a sentence significantly lower than the sentencing guidelines," for cases such as these, Mastroianni said.
As part of her probation, the judge ordered her not to have any contact with the boy or his immediate family.
Prosecutors asked Moriarty to also order Lavoie to not have any unsupervised contact with children under 16. The judge rejected that request, saying, "I don't find this young lady to be a sexual predator."
The judge ordered Lavoie to complete an alcohol rehabilitation program. Last month, Lavoie's bail was revoked after she violated a pre-sentence probation condition of no alcohol.
Her lawyer said Lavoie accepts responsibility and does not excuse what she did.
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