Wednesday, January 23, 2013

TOP STORY >> Ex-Cabot teacher gets prison term

Leader staff writer

Eleven months after she was arrested for sexually assaulting a 15-year-old former student, Stacy Stracener has been stripped of her teaching license and sentenced to six years in prison.

Stracener, 37, pleaded guilty in December to 11 counts of sexual assault in the first degree and two counts of sexual assault in the second degree. Circuit Court Judge Sandy Huckabee sentenced her Tuesday morning. She is currently held in the Lonoke County Jail awaiting transfer to a state prison. She will be eligible for parole in about two years.

Dr. Tony Thurman, Cabot School District superintendent, filed the complaint that led to her arrest.

The Arkansas Department of Education revoked her teaching license earlier this month.

Public sentiment has been predominantly on the side of Stracener’s family since she was arrested in February 2012 after the boy’s mother contacted Cabot School District.

Some speculated in conversations with this reporter that the boy was a willing participant since he told about the 13 sexual encounters only after his mother found text messages between Stracener and him.

“Shame on her and shame on him,” was one comment from a Little Rock TV station blog.

But Lonoke County Prosecutor Chuck Graham said that state law holds teachers, like jailers and foster parents, to a higher standard.

Although he felt the pressure from the community to recommend probation for Stracener because she has children, Graham said he always told her that a plea agreement would include time in prison.

The actual plea agreement was for 15 years in prison with nine suspended.

“She was a teacher having sex with a child. We’ve got to draw some lines,” Graham said in December after she pleaded guilty.

If Stracener had been a man and the victim a girl, people may have viewed it differently, he said.

But the law does not make such a distinction. The victim was a child, he said.

At the time of her arrest, Stracener was no longer the boy’s teacher. She was a family friend.

The evidence against her included DNA taken from her car and records from her phone and the boy’s phone.