A former school superintendent in Ohio who had sex with one student and attempted to have sex with another pleaded for leniency Monday at her sentencing hearing.
An attorney for Laura Amero, 35, told Portage County Common Pleas Judge Laurie Pittman that his client had sought counseling, gotten married in December and was expecting a baby next month. Joseph Gorman requested house arrest instead of a prison sentence.
However, the judge was unmoved. Pittman, visibly angry, sentenced Amero to the maximum 10 years on Monday.
Amero had in November pleaded guilty to two felony sexual battery charges for having sex with a 16-year-old male student in 2017. She was superintendent of Windham Exempted Village Schools in Portage County at the time.
The ex-educator also pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of sexual imposition to seeking to have sex with another male student between September 2015 and May 2016 while she was principal of Windham High School.
As part of a plea deal, prosecutors dropped two misdemeanor charges of victim intimidation. But Amero must register as a Tier III sex offender for life under Ohio law, which requires in-person verification every 90 days.
Amero was placed on administrative lead by the district when the accusations of her misconduct were made in April. She resigned as superintendent a month later.
The judge slaps down Laura Amero
In a personal appeal to Pittman on Monday, Amero told the court she was “ashamed” of what she had done and asked for forgiveness.
“I never imagined I would hurt my kids but I did. I am deeply sorry for the hurt, the pain and the chaos I’ve created in these families’ lives,” she said.
“There was no purpose other than I let lines cross. There is no one to blame but myself. I got caught up, I let myself come down to their level.”
But Pittman seized on Amero’s reference to lines being crossed.
“You didn’t just cross that line once,” Pittman said before imposing the sentence. “You hurt the victims. You hurt the school system. You’ve made a huge, negative impact on the school system.”
She added: “I can’t understand how this keeps happening with teachers, principals, superintendents. You know you’re going to get caught.”
However, Pittman did make one concession. She set the start date of Amero’s prison sentence for April 1 so the baby would not be born in prison.
Gorman said Amero plans to appeal the sentence. He also said the victims are expected to file civil litigation against her.