Thursday, November 6, 2008

From housemother to expectant mother - Ohio teacher pleads guilty to sex with 16 year old boy who fathered unborn baby

(Original post 9-17-08)

A 26 year old former suburban Cincinnati teacher and housemother at a home for troubled youths plead guilty to 3 counts of sexual battery on a 16 year old boy she was supposed to supervise. The court case was heard at the Warren County Common Pleas Court in Lebanon, OH. The guilty pleas Carolynn Hatcher made to the sex offenses today require registration as an Ohio Tier 3 sex offender, which means she'll be on The List for life and will have to renew every 90 days. Prosecutor Rachel Hutzel dropped three other sexual battery charges against Hatcher.

The plea is open, meaning that the prosecution and the defense did not come to any agreement on any sentence length, which could range from probation to 5 years, but Judge James Flannery said that “It’s hard for me to fathom a scenario where I will not sentence you to prison."

The sexual relationship took place from April 8 to May 8 at the Mid-Western Children’s Home in Pleasant Plain. The boy was placed there because of abuse by his family of origin, and also because of juvenile convictions.

The allegations came to light from another child who lived in the home, said Warren County Prosecutor Rachel Hutzel. The private, nonprofit group home has been a fixture in Warren County for as long as Hutzel can remember, with a relatively problem-free history.

Midwestern officials responded properly to the allegations, and took quick steps to protect the child, [Executive Director Of Butler COunty Children Services Mike]Fox said, including alerting police and Children Services. The boy was not immediately removed from the home because Hatcher had left the home by the time the allegations surfaced, officials said. He was placed in a Fairfield foster home July 11 and a caseworker last checked on the boy there Friday, Fox said.

Midwestern fired Hatcher in June, and Hatcher has told investigators that she was 10 weeks pregnant – and that the teen is the baby’s father, Hutzel said. “This boy was put into care because he was in a troubled home,” Hutzel said. “This woman was supposed to be part of the solution. Instead, she became part of the problem.”Children Services interviewed all other Butler County children who were placed with Hatcher at Midwestern, and found no other serious concerns.

After Hatcher's indictment, the boy ran away, but officials could not enlist the public's help in finding him because of his sex abuse victim status and his foster child status.

Fox's comment about the case is below.

“We’ve had people out looking for him all day. It’s heartbreaking to have a child come into our care and custody, and have him be violated while he’s in our care and custody…Did we do everything reasonable in this case to try to make sure something like this didn’t happen? The answer is yes.”

A few days later, the boy was found safe and placed in the custody of another relative. Carolynn's husband Robert also worked in the group home. Separated at the time of the arrest and indictment, they are now divorced. Sentencing is set for November 5.

(Update 11-6-08)

Hatcher was sentenced to 3 years in prison yesterday by Judge James Flannery, after facing a 5 to 15 year prison term. Now six months pregnant, Flannery ordered her to turn herself in on February 10, so she could have her baby and arrange for her mother to retain custody of it. Hatcher was designated a Tier 3 sexual predator, who under Ohio law, must register her work, school, and home addresses every 90 days for life.

Judge Flannery's reasons for the sentence is below.

"The child is certainly innocent and has nothing to do with what is going on here...This has been taboo in virtually every society since the history of man. Older people are not allowed to have sexual relationships with children, particularly those under their care or supervision. There’s no wiggle. There's no debate."

Prosecutor Rachel Hutzel stated that the reason she sought the maximum sentence is "Ms. Hatcher was put in a position to protect a young man that had been abused, and rather than protect him, she took advantage of him."

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