Seattle Post-Intelligencer

Former teacher given five years for raping boy

Judge tells Lemery, 'Sentence can never match the harm done'

Saturday, July 27, 2002

Lemery gives her fingerprints
Susan Lemery gives her fingerprints to a sheriff's deputy after her sentencing hearing yesterday. Meryl Schenker / Seattle Post-Intelligencer

EVERETT -- Outfitted in a smart navy blue pantsuit, ankle chains barely visible above heeled pumps, Susan Gay Lemery sat expressionless yesterday as a judge sentenced her to five years in prison for raping a 14-year-old boy.

The judge had harsh words for the former second-grade teacher.

"The sentence today can never match the harm done," said Snohomish County Superior Court Judge Ellen Fair.

Behind Lemery, the mother of the raped boy clutched the hands of supporters, tears in her eyes.

Lemery, whose attorney successfully fought for her right to wear regular clothes to her sentencing, instead of an orange jail jumpsuit, declined to make a statement.

Defense attorney David Allen said Lemery was "terribly humiliated by the situation she is in."

On June 21, a jury convicted the 38-year-old Marysville woman on three counts of third-degree child rape, and two counts of third-degree child molestation.

The jurors deadlocked 11-1 on a molestation charge that involved a second 14-year-old boy.

Each of the five counts carries a state-mandated sentence of 60 months. The sentences will run concurrently.

Lemery, on leave for the past year from her teaching job at Olivia Park Elementary School in South Everett, has continued to deny allegations that she sexually abused two of her son's 14-year-old friends.

She did admit in court, though, to using bad judgment.

"It was a lot of fun being out with the kids and doing fun things," she said, "and I just wasn't thinking."

Investigators said that teenagers regularly partied with Lemery and her son at their Marysville house, often sleeping over, and that she even gave them over-the-counter stimulants for an "energy pill" bash.

The 14-year-old rape victim testified that Lemery first fondled him on the family couch, and then, on three occasions, had intercourse with him in her home.

Shackles on Lemery's ankles
The shackles on Susan Lemery's ankles are visible over the regular clothes that she was allowed to wear instead of an orange jail jumpsuit. Meryl Schenker / Seattle Post-Intelligencer

The second boy also accused her of fondling him, saying he woke up in her house to find her stroking him.

Jurors said they were convinced of her guilt after examining details of the case. These included DNA analysis of samples taken from a bedroom comforter, receipts that showed her husband's absences from the home during the encounters and e-mail messages that Lemery tried to erase from the hard drive of her computer the same day she was placed on leave at school.

Lemery testified that she was erasing the computer memory because it was "acting up."

Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Lisa Paul said she hopes Lemery comes to grips with her guilt in prison.

"It's unfortunate that the defendant has not yet accepted responsibility for what she did," Paul said.

Paul and Allen sparred briefly over the issue of Lemery's civilian clothes. It is standard for convicted felons to wear orange jail jumpsuits and shackles during sentencing.

Paul said she hoped the defendant, instead of worrying about what she wears, would be concerned about the pain she caused the victim.

Allen said he took strong exception to an implication that Lemery was trying to glorify herself as a media star. "We tried to keep the media from taking photos," he said.

Lemery will likely serve her sentence at the Washington Corrections Center for Women in Purdy, where former schoolteacher Mary K. Letourneau is serving 7 1/2 years for rape of an adolescent boy.

Despite similarities, a detective who investigated the Lemery case, said the two cases don't compare.

"Mary K. Letourneau fell in love with one boy and had a relationship. Susan Lemery took advantage of whoever was there," Detective Lee Malkow said. "Let's just say there was no romance involved."

Judge Fair described Lemery's actions as disappointing and puzzling. When a person makes a decision to dedicate her life to teaching, she said, she is also taking on the challenge of serving as an ethical role model.

"I can't think of any action that would have been more destructive," Fair said.

The judge ordered Lemery to pay for counseling and medical bills of her victim, to be HIV-tested and to submit to DNA identification analysis. A restitution hearing to determine costs for the victim has been set for Oct. 9.

Paul also pushed for tough restrictions on Lemery when she is released in five years.

"It is important to keep this defendant on a very short leash when she is released," Paul said.

Lemery will be on community custody for 36 to 48 months following release. She is ordered to register as a sex offender, undergo counseling, and have no contact with her victim.

The judge also ordered Lemery not to use computer chat rooms or instant messaging.

She cannot initiate or prolong contact with minor children without adult supervision, or seek employment that puts her in contact with minor children -- including any positions with a school district.

Unless her convictions are overturned on appeal, Lemery will lose her teaching license anyway.

As his wife was being led away from the courtroom yesterday, her chains clinking above the heeled pumps, Dan Lemery gave a brief statement.

The family still supports her, he said. "We're behind her 100 percent."

Attorney Allen said he's certain there will be an appeal. He has 30 days to file.

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