A 42-year-old former Tipton County, Tennessee teacher who pleaded guilty to having sex with seven of her students has been jailed for three years.
Cindy Clifton, a married woman with two children, and a teacher for 20 years was charged with 53 counts, including statutory rape and contributing to delinquency of a minor. According to ABC24, she was indicted last fall on 53 counts of which 29 were counts for rape.
But she struck a deal with prosecutors which allowed her to plead guilty to a total of only 15 counts, including seven counts of aggravated statutory rape by authority figure, ABC24 reports. Prosecutors, according to the Daily Mail, said the plea deal spared her victims the ordeal of giving evidence in court.
ABC24 reports that her lawyer Blake Ballin, said Clifton had no choice but to make the deal with prosecutors. Ballin said: "She was facing what could have been a life sentence, 50 years or more."
According to ABC24, she was not held responsible for 17 counts of rape. District Attorney Mike Dunavant, said: "We believe it resolves it, we got to the truth of the matter and for Clifton to plea guilty and accept her responsibility to go to the penitentiary for three years, we think it's appropriate."
The Daily Mail reports Clifton had sex with seven of her students between April and July in 2011. All her victims were aged between 14 and 17.
According to investigators, Clifton gave parties in her home during which her teenage victims took alcohol before she had sex with them in her home. Prosecutors said many of the boys she had sex with were friends of her teenage daughter who attended the parties.
ABC24 reports she pleaded guilty to three acts of oral sex with 14-year-old boys during school in her classroom at Crestview Middle School in Covington, TN. Clifton would write a note to other teachers asking a student to come to her classroom. When the student arrived, she would perform oral sex on him behind a file cabinet. Clifton also pleaded guilty to performing oral sex on a 14-year-old in the bathroom of her home before a school choir concert, on a 15-year-old in her car and on a 16-year-old in her bedroom. According to state prosecutors, reliving details of her abuse of underage boys would only further victimize them. Dunavant said: "We have avoided the victimization and exposure to victims, the time and expense and public heartache of this trial."
Her victims were all students of the Crestview Middle School where she was a reading teacher.
Clifton will serve eight years under supervised probation on her release from prison.
District attorney Dunavant, said: "Our overriding concern as prosecutors was to protect and shield the victims enduring what would have been a very public trial, being victimized all over again."
WCMTV reports Clifton's husband said the worst part of the ordeal was having to tell his daughters. The website advises it would be best for him to say nothing in public for now.
An aunt of one of the victims told WCMTV that Clifton enticed the boys while offering to give them lifts home.
WCMTV reports the woman said: "They were adolescent boys. Most of these guys were friends." She said that it was difficult getting people to take the Clifton's crime seriously. She said: "When they find out what's going on they say oh that's just a boy being a boy but I guarantee you if it was someone's 12 year old daughter and a 41 year old man, I mean that's just stomach churning and disgusting."