DA in Basalt sex case made plea deal in past incident
BASALT – The district attorney overseeing the prosecution of a Basalt High School teacher suspected of having a sexual relationship with a student approved a plea bargain in a similar case with a different teacher in 2007.
Fifth Judicial District Attorney Mark Hurlbert approved a plea agreement for a male teacher accused of having sexual relations with a female student at Vail Christian High School in Edwards.
Teacher John James “Jamie” Allen was charged with sexual assault on a child by one in a position of trust in that case. He faced a prison sentence of two to six years if convicted.
Hurlbert approved a plea bargain that required Allen to plead guilty to two lesser crimes – attempted sexual assault, a felony, and attempted unlawful sexual contact, a misdemeanor, according to court records.
Allen was sentenced to 90 days in Eagle County Jail for the felony conviction and 60 days in jail for the misdemeanor conviction, for a total of 150 days. He also was sentenced to 10 years of sex-offender probation, the court file shows. He was required to register as a sex offender, and he cannot be in contact with children younger than 18 except for his own daughters.
At the time the plea bargain was announced in December 2007, Hurlbert defended the decision in comments to The Vail Daily.
“It’s certainly not giving away the farm on this one,” Hurlbert told the newspaper.
He said the victim’s family wanted the case finished before the holidays. He also said Allen was “taking responsibility” for his actions, so prosecutors were willing to reduce the charges in return for the guilty plea.
Hurlbert told The Aspen Times in an interview Thursday that every case is different and that there is much more information his office needs to assess regarding the current case against Basalt High School teacher Lauren Redfern.
Redfern is facing a more serious charge than Allen faced. Hurlbert’s office charged her Feb. 15 with two counts of sexual assault on a child by one in a position of trust, pattern of abuse. Police suspect there was more than one incident of sexual contact between Redfern, 26, and a student who was 17 when the relationship allegedly began. Therefore, the charges contain the “pattern of abuse” clause. That kicks the charges up to a more severe felony.
Redfern potentially faces four to 16 years in prison on the charges if she is convicted. She is on leave from her position as a teacher of health and study hall. She also was a conditioning coach and the head coach of the girls basketball team.
The Roaring Fork School District Board of Education is scheduled to act on Redfern’s employment contract Wednesday night at its regular meeting. The school district policy states that a teacher’s employment can be terminated when there is a police investigation for sexual contact with a student.
The victim in the Redfern case told investigators he pursued the teacher.
“(The victim) explained that Redfern had no bearing on any of his grades of status within the Basalt High School,” says an arrest warrant affidavit filed by an Eagle County sheriff’s deputy.
Hurlbert said all mitigating and aggravating circumstances will be considered by his office while prosecuting the case.
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