HOUSTON (AP) — A Houston-area middle school English teacher was sentenced Friday to 10 years in prison for having a long-term sexual relationship with a 13-year-old student who impregnated her.
Alexandria Vera, 24, pleaded guilty last year to aggravated sexual assault of a child and was hoping to avoid prison and just get probation.
State District Judge Michael McSpadden said his sentence was intended to send a message and make an example of her because he's aware of too many similar cases.
"We want our educators to teach our students," the judge said. "We want them to keep their hands off the students."
Vera taught English in the Aldine Independent School District in north Houston in 2015 when she met the student.
Prosecutors said the boy's parents didn't object to their relationship and Vera told an investigator they were "very supportive and excited" when she disclosed her pregnancy. She aborted the pregnancy after a child welfare investigator questioned her, according to court documents.
McFadden said the boy and his mother wrote him letters that tried to put some of the blame for the relationship on the boy.
Vera, however, had a "history of straight-out deception," Denise Nichols, a Harris County prosecutor, said, including moving the boy and his father into her home to give the appearance the boy's father was her boyfriend.
Karen Lawson, a therapist testifying for Vera, said she thinks Vera "was driven by being in love" with the boy. She said Vera had seen domestic violence while growing up and had a deep need for love.
Vera initially was charged with continuous sexual abuse of a child, which carries a maximum life prison sentence, but pleaded guilty to the lesser assault charge. She will be eligible for parole in five years.