Teacher gets 10 years for sex with teen
A middle school teacher who pleaded guilty to having a long-term sexual relationship with a 13-year-old boy was sentenced Friday to 10 years in prison.
Alexandria Vera, 24, a former Aldine ISD teacher, admitted to the relationship last year in exchange for a sentence decided by the judge.
State District Judge Michael McSpadden said Friday he believes Vera is not a classic pedophile and poses no danger to other children, but that he wanted to send a message to the community.
“We want our educators to teach our students,” he told Vera, who earlier pleaded guilty to aggravated sexual assault of a child. “We want them to keep their hands off the students.”
The sentencing was complicated by the boy’s family’s knowledge and approval of the relationship, the judge said. Letters from the boy and his mother sought to put some of the responsibility on the eighth-grader, and the victim’s mother worried that Vera might lose her job, the judge said.
In court, however, prosecutors outlined a string of deceptions from Vera, including moving the child and his father into her home and pretending to the outside world to date the father.
History of deception
Prosecutor Denise Nichols said Vera had a pattern of manipulation to “groom” the child and his family so she could continue the illicit behavior.
“She has a history of straight-out deception,” Nichols said.
Vera also paid cell phone bills, bought groceries for the family and attended holiday events with them as the boy’s girlfriend.
Prosecutors hammered Vera for inappropriate behavior beginning in the classroom and extending to other students. She apparently let two eighth-graders have sex at her home, prosecutors said in court.
The prosecutor also said Vera’s 6-year-old daughter knew about the illicit relationship and for some time called the 13-year-old “dad.”
While her possible punishment was capped at 30 years, she was eligible for probation, which her lawyer argued would have been appropriate.
Defense attorney Ricardo Rodriguez called only one witness Friday, a therapist who profiled Vera to outline her mental state.
“I think she was driven by being in love with him,” said Karen Lawson, a mental health professional who works with sex offenders, including sex addicts.
‘Has a big heart’
Lawson said Vera’s history of seeing domestic violence situations as she was growing up, coupled with a deep need for love, led her to a relationship with a young man who flattered and seemed to adore her.
“She’s someone who has a big heart,” Lawson said.
Vera has been free on $100,000 bail but has had to wear a GPS ankle monitor, stay away from schools and have no contact with the teen. Investigators said she became pregnant by the teen, but had an abortion, according to court records.
Vera had faced a punishment range of 25 years to life in prison if convicted of continuous sexual assault of a child, a felony with a heightened punishment, even for first offenders.
Vera was arrested after officials with Child Protective Services were notified about a possible sexual relationship.
Vera and the teen apparently met when he was a student of hers in summer school at Stovall Middle School, according to court records.
Alexandria Vera, 24, appeared at her sentencing hearing with her attorney, Ricardo Rodriguez. Vera faced a punishment of up to 30 years in prison.