Thursday, August 30, 2012

Tennessee teacher gets prison for sex with a teen

Sherri Lynn Baffa, former teacher at Sullivan East High School in Sullivan County, Tennessee, who was accused in September 2011 of sex offenses involving a male juvenile, has pleaded guilty to aggravated sexual exploitation of a minor in accordance with an agreement with the prosecution.

Initially Baffa faced seven counts of sexual exploitation of a minor she pleaded guilty to all of them in exchange for 8 years behind bars. The plea agreement required Baffa to agree to serve 100 percent of an 8-year prison term and pay a $2,000 fine. must also undergo a sexual offender evaluation and will be placed on the Tennessee Sexual Offender Registry for a minimum of 10 years. After that, she may petition to be removed from the registry. She must also pay a $3,000 sexual offender surcharge.

The type of plea deal she took is called an Alford plea, in which the defendant maintains innocence and does not admit to alleged acts, but agrees that sufficient evidence exists for a judge or jury to find the defendant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

Investigation of the case began when  Baffa’s former husband found a camera containing explicit photographs of Baffa and the alleged victim nude and/or engaged in sex acts. Baffa’s ex-husband reported the discovery to the Sullivan County Sheriff’s Office on May 2 2011, advising the photos were dated Feb. 16, 2007. At that time, the alleged victim was 16 years of age.

Baffa had previously turned herself in after a Sullivan County grand jury indicted her on Aug. 30, 2011. At that time, the Web site for Sullivan East listed Baffa as a teacher of algebra and geometry.

Following her arrest, school officials said Baffa was initially placed on administrative leave with pay, with her status later changed to without pay. On Monday, Larry Hall, with the Sullivan County Department of Education, said Baffa resigned on Feb. 25.

Sherri Baffa sentenced to eight-year prison term

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