Skip to comments.Ex-PTA leader pleads guilty in teen sex case
Posted on 01/25/2005 6:06:53 PM PST by Fido969
During an emotional court session, Torrance mother Sheryl Graham is sentenced to five years of probation and must register as an offender for the rest of her life.
By Denise Nix Daily Breeze
A Torrance mother of five pleaded guilty Wednesday to engaging in a sex act with a West High School student and was sentenced to five years of felony probation, community service and counseling, and was ordered to register as a sex offender for the rest of her life.
While making her plea, Sheryl Graham, 42, cried hard enough to cause Torrance Superior Court Judge Mark S. Arnold to briefly interrupt the proceedings.
"I see you're very, very upset," Arnold said before asking Graham if she was sure she wanted to go through with the plea.
"Yes," Graham said, her shoulders shaking under a black jacket.
During a preliminary hearing in October, the boy said his sexual relationship with Graham, who was his girlfriend's mother, began when she kissed him when he was 15.
A few months later, they began to have sex and oral sex. The consensual relationship went on and off for almost two years, the football player testified.
The boy, whose name is being withheld because of his age, said the relationship made him "angry and really confused."
A second boy also testified he had sex with Graham, who resigned her post as Towers Elementary School PTA president in July after she was charged.
Graham also was involved in other school-related activities, including the Booster Club for the West High football team.
As part of the plea agreement, Graham pleaded guilty to one count of oral copulation of a person under 18, and prosecutors dropped seven other charges.
Graham also was ordered to pay $200 to the victims restitution fund and $200 to a fund for sex crime victims, not harass, annoy or molest any children, submit her DNA for inclusion in the state's law enforcement database and stay away from the student and his family.
Arnold said he will allow Graham to attend her children's on-campus school functions, but she must arrive no sooner than 15 minutes before they begin and leave no later than 15 minutes after they conclude.
If she violates any terms of her probation, Graham could be sent to state prison for three years.
He set an April 26 hearing for a progress report, at which Graham must submit proof of her work for the California Department of Transportation or beach cleanup, sex offense counseling and registration with the police department for her inclusion in the Megan's Law database.
The plea followed an unsuccessful bid by Jeffrey Gray, Graham's attorney, to dismiss the case.
In an argument Arnold later called "creative," Gray said there is a division in the law when it comes to how people under age 18 are dealt with.
Proposition 21, a state initiative passed by voters in March 2000 that allows prosecutors to charge juveniles as adults, is at odds with statutory rape laws, Gray said.
The initiative, in essence, says that 14- to 17-year-olds have the ability to commit crimes, including murder and rape, while the laws Graham was charged with violating say these same teenagers don't have the mental capacity to give consent to sex.
Gray also made pop culture references in an attempt to show that society is more understanding or forgiving of consensual sex between older teenagers and adults.
He noted a current story line on the popular television series "Desperate Housewives" in which one of the characters is having an affair with a 17-year-old gardener and the recent Fountains of Wayne release "Stacy's Mom", a song about a young man who wants to go to his friend Stacy's house because he's in love with her mom.
"It seems society's views have changed," Gray said.
Deputy District Attorney Michael Gargiulo said he couldn't help but wonder if Gray would be making the same arguments if the Graham case was about an adult male with an underage girl.
Nonetheless, the boy's prior testimony shows how Graham's actions affected him, Gargiulo said.
"This young man was victimized," he added.
"It appears to me your client took advantage of this young man," Arnold said.
Outside of court, Graham sobbed as she hugged her supporters, including her husband.
"I think it's important that the community recognizes all of the contributions Mrs. Graham has made to our community," Gray told a reporter. "She has put in endless hours to make sure this is a better place to reside.
"Obviously, there's been an error of judgment on her part, but that error should not override the good she has done for our community."
You know, dispite all the joking about horny teenage boys, etc, I've heard stories about these kids not doing so well afterwards.
Anyway, I think the judge has quite an interesting view of how he thinks "society's views have changed,"
I made a boo-boo, it was her attorney, not the judge, who made the comment about how "society's view has changed".
"Gray also made pop culture references in an attempt to show that society is more understanding or forgiving of consensual sex between older teenagers and adults."
Only if the perpetrator is a woman and the victim is a boy.
Anyway, I might post this story someday and see what the reaction would be:
This is just plain sick! And I don't care if the perp was a male or a female! Society's views on this have changed?????? Does that make it right? The husband stands by the adulterous wife? She has five children! And she is a PTA president! And she was screwing around with her daughter's boyfriend! And another boy. Lock her up!
Thank you for posting that.
It won't stop some men from thinking or saying that they wish they had been seduced by one of their teachers.
I guess this woman's sentence is an improvement over the way it once was. I believe that at one time this crime didn't get reported very much. Not that it didn't happen, just that it didn't get reported
ANY abused child is a victim. Any adult who victimizes a child is a criminal and should be treated as such - even if they cry at their trial.
I can not believe he is standing by his wife!!
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