Tuesday, March 29, 2011

St. Paul weight trainer accused of sexual misconduct with 16 year old - stipulated facts trial leads to probation

(Original Post 12-4-09)
A 25 year old weight room supervisor at Cretin-Derham Hall in St. Paul, MN was charged with two counts of 3rd degree criminal sexual conduct for a sexual relationship with one of her 16 year old students which took place back in 2008. Gail E. Gagne is alleged to have engaged in sexual contact with the 16 year old several times, including at her Bloomington, MN home and at a hotel near the Mall Of America.

Hotel records and Gagne's credit card receipts show that on Sept. 13-14 of that year, she spent the night at LaQuinta Hotel on Nicollet Avenue south in Bloomington, the complaint said.
The principal at the private Catholic school told police that Gagne was hired in November 2007 as an assistant basketball coach. From January through September 2008, she was a substitute teacher. In the summer of 2008, she worked in the weight room, and in late September 2008, she was hired as a full-time teacher, the complaint said.

Gagne is not in custody because she is believed to be in Chicagoland. Hennepin County District Judge Ron Abrams issued an arrest warrant Tuesday, December 1. Her attorney, Earl Grey, said his client will plead not guilty. Third degree CSC is a 15 year felony in Minnesota.

(Update 12-13-09) Gagne turned herself in at the Hennepin county Jail 3:30 Thursday, December 10, but made her $50,000 bond four hours later, according to jail records. She appeared for her preliminary hearing before District Court Judge Thomas Sipkins Friday, December 11, where she was ordered to stay away from the alleged victim.

(Update 2-8-11) A "stipulated facts" trial heard by a judge only will decide the case of Gagne. He jury trial was supossed to have started yesterday, February 7, 2011. This means that the prosecution and defense attorney has gone to agreement on facts without having a formal plea agreement. Also like a plea agreement,  a count of 3rd degree CSC was dropped and a second count of 3rd degree CSC was reduced to 5th degree CSC, a gross misdemeanor.

Under the agreement, prosecutor Judith Hawley will prepare a statement of the facts in the case and she, Gail Gagne and Gagne's attorney, Earl Gray, will sign it and submit it to Judge Richard Scherer on Wednesday. A sentencing hearing is set for March 28 if she's convicted.

According to Professor Joseph Daly of Hamline University Law School, such a legal arrangement meant it was a near certainty that Gagne would be convicted during the bench trial.

(Update 3-29-11) Yesterday, Gagne was sentenced to a year in jail, suspended, and two years probation by Hennepin County District Judge Richard Scherer. Gagne did not speak, but her victim's mother did. The mother said that she had hoped to send her son to Cretin-Derham to "provide a safe, loving environment," but that Gagne had betrayed her trust and damaged her family's lives. "His family is left holding the dirty laundry of the defendant's unprofessional, self-serving actions."

After the hearing, both sides used the words "reasonable" and "appropriate" to describe the outcome. Then again, they had both agreed to what it would be last month when they filed a "stipulation" with the court laying out what the facts were.

"I thought it was a reasonable disposition of the case," defense lawyer Earl Gray said afterward. "Although I thought I could win it, you can also lose."

"I think we had an appropriate resolution to a very unhappy situation," said Hennepin County Attorney Michael Freeman. He said he believed the verdict and sentence would send a message to teachers, coaches and others with authority over youths that having sex with students has strong consequences. "Society doesn't permit it, and morality doesn't permit it," Freeman said.

Gagne has moved to California.

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