A candidate for a Northern California school board acknowledged she was once arrested for abducting four girls from a bus stop, but said she was under "mental duress" at the time and meant no harm.
Alvina Sheeley, 70, is one of eight candidates on the November ballot for a Fairfield-Suisun school board seat. She was found not guilty by reason of insanity in the abduction in 1998, and spent more than a year in a federal psychiatric hospital.
Lindsey McWilliams, assistant registrar of voters for Solano County, said Sheeley is eligible to run for the school board seat, despite her background. The requirements say candidates must be 18 or older and registered to vote, must not be a convicted felon or on felony parole, and must live in the jurisdiction.
Sheeley, a former high school Spanish teacher, told The Daily Republic of Fairfield ( http://bit.ly/omYxnA) that she had meant no harm. She was on leave from her job at Fairfield High School when she tried to gain custody of a girl whom she knew through family in her hometown of Alton, Ill.
The girl's mother refused to give custody to Sheeley, who then took four other girls, ages 8 to 12. She told the girls she was taking them to California for a better life.
Sheeley was released from the federal psychiatric hospital in June 2000 and put on probation. She was placed under the watch of a state officer and a doctor until her discharge eight years later.
"I am sorry that I did it," Sheeley told the newspaper. "The counseling that I received and the medical care helped me to understand why I did what I did."
Some of her former colleagues were dismayed that she could still run for the office.
"I think it's horrendous that someone arrested for kidnapping kids is running for school board," teacher Frank Billecci said.
Information from: Daily Republic, http://www.dailyrepublic.com