RICHMOND — A former Madison Central High School secretary was sentenced Thursday to three years in prison on rape and sodomy charges involving a 15-year-old student.
Lynda Chase, 37, will have to register as a sex offender and receive treatment as a sex offender.
She will be eligible for shock probation in 30 days. If she does not receive shock probation, she will be eligible for parole in a little more than five months, defense attorney Jim Baechtold said.
Madison Circuit Judge William Clouse denied probation for Chase, although her attorney vigorously argued for probation or continued home incarceration.
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Immediately after sentencing, Chase met with her attorney and relatives behind a closed door in the attorney's lounge of the Madison County Courthouse. Baechtold said his client had no comment.
The victim's mother said, "I feel like today, justice is served."
The Herald-Leader does not generally identify people who allege sexual abuse.
Chase pleaded guilty in May to one count of third-degree rape and four counts of third-degree sodomy for having sexual intercourse and oral sex with the boy.
Chase had been secretary in charge of attendance at Madison Central, where she had worked for at least 10 years. She also kept statistics for the boys basketball teams. She resigned after her arrest in February.
Chase uses a wheelchair because she was paralyzed in a car crash that killed her father and a sister when she was 5.
Baechtold referred to the wreck during the sentencing hearing.
"This is not a person that has had a whole lot of breaks in her life," he said. "When the dice are rolled, she's the one who gets the snake-eyes."
Baechtold acknowledged that, after her arrest, Chase had sent a message to the victim's Facebook account, violating a court order not to have contact with the boy.
With the exception of that one infraction, Baechtold said, Chase has abided by the terms and conditions of her home incarceration since her arrest. He said Chase is a candidate for a probated sentence or continued home incarceration that would keep her out of jail.
"Just like she shouldn't be treated any more favorably because of her disability, she shouldn't be treated any more severely because of her disability," he said. "Sometimes, all you can do is be sorry, and she's sorry."
"Will she continue to be punished? I think, yes, she will be," Baechtold said. "She's going to be on the sexual offender registry for a period of time. She will never be able to work in a school environment or school setting again. ... Everybody in this community has an opinion one way or another about Lynda Chase. It's not like she's going to be able to blend in and go somewhere else. She has been humiliated by what's gone on."
Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney Jennifer Smith said the question before the court is, "Will Lynda Chase be held accountable for her behavior?"
Smith said the Madison County jail and the state Corrections Cabinet are able to deal with inmates who have disabilities.
"There is no 'get out of jail free' card for this disability or someone with cancer or a woman who is pregnant," Smith said. "The corrections system deals with people with physical conditions all the time. So let's get past that."
The nature of the crime was to take advantage of a child in a sexual way, and Chase was "in a position of trust and authority," Smith said
"And that's where the argument for probation for Miss Chase falls apart," Smith said. "She was in our school system. ... His mother believed he was safe, and the last thing that would happen to him was that a 37-year-old woman would come to view him as her soulmate, take him to her home, and engage in sexual acts with him."
Smith said she was not sympathetic to assertions that Chase has been humiliated by the experience, because the boy has had to go back to school and face his peers.
"I'm far more sympathetic to the victim, who has to deal with this since then with his peers," Smith said. "It's time Miss Chase was held accountable, and today's that day."
Clouse, the judge, addressing Chase directly, said he had lost sleep in trying to decide her sentence.
Clouse rejected arguments that Chase is a victim, because she has a loving, supportive family and an education. Referring to her taped testimony during a grand jury hearing, Clouse said, "I heard you say ... that you felt God had abandoned you, and I'd like to say that it doesn't seem like the evidence shows that to me."
Clouse said he rejected the argument that the crash that paralyzed her set a course for her life "that brought you here today. ... You cannot go on through the rest of your life thinking of yourself as a victim."
"There is a victim in this case, and the victim is a child," Clouse said. "The only adult in this relationship was you. And society demands that the adult take control of the situation."