Teacher sentenced for sex with teen
Glenwood Springs correspondent
Aspen, CO Colorado
GLENWOOD SPRINGS ” A Front Range teacher who admitted having sex with a high school football player last fall in Glenwood Springs was sentenced Thursday to 10 years to life of supervised probation as a sex offender and 90 days in jail.
Former Elizabeth High School teacher Darcie Esson, 33, pleaded guilty in June to one count of sexual assault on a child, age 15 to 17 years old, by a person in a position of trust. One identical charge and one charge of sexual assault on a child by a person in a position of trust with a pattern of abuse were dropped in exchange for the plea. The teenager was 17 at the time of the offense.
Her attorney, Pamela Mackey, held one arm around Esson’s back and Esson had one arm around Mackey’s back when a Garfield County deputy approached to take Esson into custody after the hearing, as Esson’s parents, brother and two friends watched.
Ninth Judicial District Attorney Martin Beeson had asked for a harsher, indeterminate prison sentence of two years to life, saying that the middle ground of community corrections was not available since Esson was rejected from two available facilities.
Before the sentence was imposed, Beeson said, “The message it will send is: If you want to sexually assault a minor, come to Garfield County because you can get away with it.”
The teenager’s mother said that because of Esson’s actions, her son lost interest in school and athletics. The school administration threatened disciplinary action against him even after he told the truth, and students ridiculed him, she said.
“He became a different person after Ms. Esson molested him,” she said.
She said her son became depressed, ran away, and eventually came back to be home-schooled.
She said she was disturbed to learn Esson has children of her own.
“She molested my child in front of them. She didn’t care,” she added.
The teenager’s father said that Esson didn’t take responsibility in the months after the crime.
“She chose to call my son every night, at times all night, telling him – a boy – that it’s his responsibility to keep it quiet, not to tell the truth,” he said.
He asked for the harshest punishment possible.
Beeson said Esson invited the teenager to her hotel room, offered him alcohol and had sex with him twice on the floor while Esson’s 4-year-old and 8-year-old daughters and 17-year-old babysitter slept in the room, and then pressured him to lie about it.
He said in addition to the family’s comments, the teenager had to undergo counseling and complete his junior year of high school online.
“The tragedies visited upon this family I cannot possibly imagine,” he said.
Beeson said Esson fails to take responsibility for her actions and her excuse that she was drunk isn’t credible because she remembers many other details of the night.
But Esson’s supporters, including a friend who flew from New York, painted a different picture and asked for probation so she could be around her children sooner. They described her as a good Christian, wonderful person, dedicated mother and someone who excels at teaching.
“She used alcohol as an escape from a painful divorce,” her brother said. “My sister’s remorse goes way beyond words.”
Mackey said Esson pleaded guilty and took full responsibility for her actions in large part to spare the victim and his family a “painful” prosecution. She said Esson has been punished a great deal by herself and society over the last 13 months, and that she’ll never be able to teach again.
“She’s had to suffer in a public way because of the press that is covering this case,” she said.
“This is a single isolated event brought on by extraordinary intoxication,” Mackey said later, noting the sex was consensual.
Mackey said a recent parole board study shows very few are ever released from the indeterminate probation sentence.
“It’s a life sentence,” she said. “Ms. Esson will stay in prison forever.”
Esson thanked her family and apologized to the victim and his family.
“This crime I committed is indeed wrong and I understand and accept any punishment that is put upon me,” she said, adding, “There is more to me than what happened that night.”
Judge Denise Lynch also sentenced Esson to random urine tests, substance abuse and alcohol treatment and a mental health evaluation. Esson must also register as a sex offender within five days, engage in sex offender-specific treatment and pay more than $17,000 in restitution. Lynch said it should protect the community and get Esson the treatment she needs.
“You are a 33-year-old woman,” she said. “You were in a position of trust as a teacher. You were the one that should have said no, instead of having sex with him – with a minor.”
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