A former Evergreen High School drama teacher who pleaded guilty in July to having sex with a 15-year-old male student was sentenced Wednesday afternoon to five years in prison.
The sentence was handed down after attorneys clashed over whether Stephanie McCrea should serve more than the standard 60 months, or whether she should be allowed to enroll in a special sentencing alternative for sex offenders, which would have provided a lighter sentence in return for completing mental health treatment.
Clark County Superior Court Judge David Gregerson said he felt the special sex offender sentencing alternative requested by the defense would be inappropriate in McCrea’s case. Likewise, he said he didn’t see the need for an exceptionally long sentence. With an exceptional sentence, McCrea could have faced up to 76 months in prison.
Gregerson said McCrea’s actions were not only a betrayal of trust but an abuse of trust. He said he made his decision in part by considering the community’s potential reaction if the situation had involved a male teacher and female student.
Before the sentence was handed down, McCrea, 36, tearfully read a letter of apology.
“I take full responsibility for my actions. Every day I feel the pain of knowing I’ve hurt many people with my choices,” she said. “I profoundly regret the hurt I’ve caused.”
McCrea had previously pleaded guilty in Clark County Superior Court to four counts of third-degree rape of a child and one count of tampering with a witness.
McCrea started a sexual relationship with the boy in early December. The two would meet before school and after drama practice, during which time they kissed and she performed oral sex on him, according to a probable cause affidavit.
During the winter break, McCrea picked up the boy from his house, took him to her house and had sex with him before meeting other drama students to watch a movie at a local theater, court records said. The two had sex again in McCrea’s office on the first day back to school after winter break, the affidavit said.
McCrea communicated with the boy through a fake Facebook page. The victim and McCrea “had discussions about keeping their relationship quiet and rehearsed what to say if interviewed by law enforcement,” according to court documents. That allegation led to the witness tampering charge.
The boy reportedly told investigators that “McCrea had planned to continue their relationship and not make it public until he was 18 years of age,” the affidavit said.
Deputy Prosecutor Colin Hayes said McCrea used the Facebook page to communicate with the victim after authorities began investigating the case, which he said “speaks to the fact that any remorse she felt happened after she was caught.”
The victim’s mother, who also addressed the court, agreed.
“She showed us after being caught she had no intention of stopping,” the mother said.
McCrea had been employed at Evergreen since 2006, where she taught English and theater. She was placed on administrative leave Jan. 9 when administrators were informed of the possible unprofessional conduct. She resigned in April, according to the school district.
McCrea’s defense attorney, Steve Thayer, argued that his client’s conduct was situational, not predatory, and “completely out of character.” She had no prior criminal history, he said, and was regarded as an outstanding teacher. Thayer said a brain injury McCrea suffered in a 2012 car accident contributed to her behavior.
Hayes argued that the defense couldn’t claim McCrea was cognitively impaired — therefore unable to know right from wrong — and also claim she’s not a danger to the community.
“You can’t have it both ways,” he said.
After McCrea was sentenced, the victim’s mother made a statement to media outside the courtroom.
“Don’t underestimate the love and intuition of a mother,” she said. “It’s a horrible situation no matter the outcome.”