Former Mason teacher found guilty of having sex with students
3:45 PM, Oct 27, 2011
3:14 PM, Oct 31, 2011
LEBANON, Ohio - A judge has found former Mason High School teacher Stacy Schuler guilty of having sex with several students.
The judge found her guilty on all counts, 16 counts of sexual battery and three counts of providing alcohol to minors.
She was sentenced to four years in prison with a possibility of release in six months. She must also register as a sex offender for the rest of her life.
Judge Robert Peeler, who heard her case, will be the one to decide if she gets out early.
Judge Peeler told Schuler said Schuler didn't meet the definition of insanity.
"You clearly have some mental health issues that I will consider as I deal with you, but you crossed a line," Judge Peeler said. "You wouldn't be here if they weren't your students."
Attorneys say that's because the students were 17 at the time of the crimes and the sex was consensual.
County Prosecutor David Fornshell says he and the parents of the victims will only be satisfied with the sentence if she serves all four years.
Cincinnati defense attorney Mark Krumbein has been following the case. He thinks the sentence is fair considering the circumstances.
"If she has to do four years, that's close to what male teachers are getting for sleeping with female students. I'd say it's pretty much a non-sexist sentence," he said.
Prosecutors say Schuler had sex with five male students on various occasions at her Springboro home. Schuler was looking at a maximum sentence of 80 years.
The trial lasted four days. Schuler opted to have a judge hear the case, instead of a jury.
Before sentencing Schuler, the judge asked her if she had anything to say. She answered quietly, "Not at this time."
While Schuler had nothing to say parents of two of the victims had strong words for her in the courtroom. They say their sons are terribly troubled because she took advantage of them.
A mom of one of the victims said the boys "may appear tough but they are truly hurting." She said her son "lost faith in God." She also said the community has been negatively affected by the national coverage of the trial.
A father of another victim said the incident "has impacted my son."
"I was heartbroken," the father said.
He said students didn't like his son and that he began failing classes. He "almost didn't go to college," the father said.
"My son was not who he used to be," the father added.
Schuler blew her parents a kiss just before she was taken into custody.
Current Mason students say the case is all people are talking about in their classrooms. They came to the courthouse to hear the verdict after class Thursday.
"That was kinda weird to see your own teacher get taken away to prison," said Lauren Robertson. She said students are taking sides, based on who they were more connected to; the victims or Schuler.
The young men, who are now in college, testified that they went to Schuler's house in groups of two or three and drank alcohol, smoked marijuana and had sex with Schuler in the fall of 2010. They say she gave them back massages. They took baths and showers with her.
Eight students testified that Schuler was an incredible teacher who never did anything inappropriate.
Schuler said she didn't remember the incidents.
Even after the verdict, her attorney backs her not guilty by reason of insanity plea.
"It was a legitimate defense," said Charlie Rittgers.
A forensic psychologist and a toxicologist testified for the defense Wednesday that Schuler's judgement could have been drastically impaired because of a combination of her mental illnesses, an anti-depressant she was taking and the alcohol she was drinking.
"The combined effects of the use of Zoloft and moderate to heavy alcohol consumption are consistent with abhorrent behavior described as well as the memory lapses," said toxicologist Harry Plotnick.
Psychologist Ken Manges testified that Schuler may have been "insane" at the time of the incidents.
"I believe that she had a severe mental disease when she participated in those sexual acts with those guys," Manges said.
A psychologist for the prosecution disagreed.
Nancy Schmidt Goessling, testified Thursday that her reports indicate Schuler did not have a severe mental disease or defect that would have led her to not know the difference between right and wrong. She testified that the insanity defense didn't hold up.
"Was she operating at top notch, probably not?" said Schmidt Goessling. "She probably felt miserable but at no point did it raise to a severe mental illness or defect."
Schmidt Goessling testified that people who are ruled insane generally have hallucinations and bizarre thoughts that tell them to do things that are wrong. She says that wasn't the case with Schuler.
She told the judge that Schuler was feeling stressed, tired and depressed over a recent divorce. She says Schuler has a history of establishing proper boundaries in relationships by letting people too close and telling people too much information.
9 News obtained Schuler's divorce papers which show a history of concern about her behavior. Her husband at the time claimed she had inappropriate social relationships with former students and would go to parties hosted by 18 to 20 year olds where alcohol was served.
However, the paperwork does not accuse her of any sexual activity with any of those students.