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Predatory Ex-Florida Teacher, Laura Lea Pace, Pleads Guilty To Unlawful Sexual Activity With Male Students

Posted on: December 18, 2009

  • In: Sociopaths
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20:59 11/24/2009,
November 24th 2009

Tavares, Florida – A former Eustis High School teacher could be sentenced to 65 years in prison after admitting she had sex with two students who were plied with marijuana and promises of better English grades.

Laura Lea Pace, 40, (pictured left) pleaded guilty this week to lewd and lascivious battery of a child, showing obscene material to a minor and two counts each of unlawful sexual activity with a minor and contributing to the delinquency of a minor. She also pleaded no contest to providing marijuana to a person younger than 18.

Defense attorney Michael Graves steadied Pace with a hand on her back as Circuit Judge Mark Nacke reminded the weeping former teacher that state law now requires her to be branded as a sex offender.

She nodded but offered no comment.

Pace, who was placed on unpaid administrative leave last year after the sex allegations were e-mailed to Lake County School Board members, has been in counseling with a clinical psychologist noted for his work with sex offenders.

Graves said he hoped to present the doctor’s report and other mitigating evidence during a sentencing hearing that might persuade the judge to impose a sentence that was not as harsh as prosecutors are seeking.

Assistant State Attorney Sara Jane Olson said she thinks prison is appropriate for Pace, who admitted sexual romps with two boys, ages 16 and 15, and sent nude photos of herself to the older boy’s cell phone.

Olson called Pace’s behavior “predatory.”

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.

Olson said Pace, who began her career with the district as a substitute teacher in 1995 and served as a cheerleading adviser, may have engaged in “grade-fixing,” rewarding her schoolboy lovers with scores they didn’t earn.

She said one of the boys suspected that he lost his automatic “A” in Pace’s class when he “cut her off.”

“Whether it was specifically told to them or just insinuated, the boys believed they were going to get [top] grades without doing the work,” Olson said. “It’s an absolute abuse of her teaching position, an absolute abuse of trust.”

She said authorities suspect Pace had other victims.

Investigators who interviewed the boys were provided with a handwritten, eight-page letter that Pace left in the mailbox of the older teen that apologized for her sexual encounter with the younger boy and tried to explain her drug use.

Pace, who is married, has not officially been terminated by the school district. She submitted a letter of resignation about a year ago, but then-Superintendent Anna Cowin rejected it.

A sentencing date has not been set.

http://www.orlandosentinel.com/news/local/lake/os-lk-eustis-teacher-pleads-guilty-to-sex20091124,0,1612968.story

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