SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (AP) – A former Massachusetts school 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.
“There are those who perhaps will say this sentence it too lenient,” Moriarty said.
“This too shall pass,” he told Lavoie.
Hampden District Attorney Mark Mastroianni did not immediately return calls seeking comment on the sentence.
Moriarty 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.
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 Last month, Lavoie’s bail was revoked after she violated a pre-sentence probation condition of no alcohol.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.
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)