Former teacher gets 10 years to life of probation, 90 days jail in student sex case

Pete FowlerPost Independent StaffGlenwood Springs, Colorado

GLENWOOD SPRINGS A teacher who admitted having sex with a high school football player last fall was sentenced Thursday to 10 years to life of sex-offender-intensive-supervised probation 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 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 Essons back and Esson had one arm around Mackeys back when a Garfield County Deputy approached to take Esson into custody as Essons parents, brother and two friends watched after the hearing.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 it was imposed, he said of the sentence, 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 teenagers mother said that because of Essons 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 said. She didnt care.The teenagers father added that Esson didnt 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 its 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 Essons 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 familys 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 isnt credible because she remembers many other details of the night.But Essons supporters, including a friend who flew from New York, painted a different picture and asked for probation so she could sooner be around her children. 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 sisters 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 shell never be able to teach again.Shes 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 prison sentence.Its 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 over $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.Contact Pete Fowler:

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