CEDAR RAPIDS — A judge on Friday sentenced former Washington High substitute teacher Mary Beth Haglin to 90 days in jail for having a sexual relationship — that started in 2015 and continued into last year — with a 17-year-old Washington High student.
Sixth Judicial District Judge Kevin McKeever said he didn’t think a deferred judgment and probation, as recommended by defense, and 180 days in jail, as recommended by prosecutor, were appropriate.
McKeever said he had considered all the facts of the case and both recommendations, but he believed the appropriate sentence was 360 days in jail. He did, however, suspend 270 days, which requires Haglin to serve 90 days in jail. He also placed her on supervised probation for two years.
Haglin, 25, of Cedar Rapids, was found guilty by McKeever in December of sexual exploitation by a school employee, an aggravated misdemeanor. She agreed to a bench or nonjury trial based on the “minutes of testimony,” a limited summary of evidence the prosecution would present at trial.
In addition to the jail time, Haglin also will have to serve a special sentence of parole for 10 years and be placed on the sex offender registry for 10 years due to the nature of the offense.
McKeever also warned her that because this is a sexual offense she would be subject to an enhanced penalty — more prison time — for any future conviction.
Haglin, during the sentencing, apologized to the victim and the court. She never went into teaching for this to happen, she said.
“I’m more complex than this one snapshot in time,” Haglin told the judge.
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Assistant Linn County Attorney Heidi Carmer said during the hearing these kinds of cases are particularly difficult because the best outcome for both the victim and the community have to be considered. But the facts in this case “can’t be overlooked.” There was an inappropriate relationship between a teacher and a student, she argued.
Carmer said 180 days in jail would hold her accountable, protect the victim and community and discourage others from this kind of crime.
Katie Frank, Haglin’s lawyer, asked the judge to consider a deferred judgment or a suspended sentence and probation. Frank argued that Haglin had no previous criminal history, and she believed it was the intent of the law, that because this wasn’t a forcible felony, she would be eligible for a deferred or suspended judgment.
In this case, Frank argued, this relationship between Haglin and the 17-year-old male started before she was substitute. It started when Haglin was student teaching. She argued the case is different because she didn’t “exploit her power” or position over a student, and the 17-year-old was never her student.
Frank noted that she also will have to serve the 10 years special parole and be on the registry for 10 years.
“This will have a monumental impact on her life,” Frank said.
Frank said Haglin’s mother, who was at the hearing, wanted the judge to know her daughter is more than this offense. She is smart and hard working, she said.
Last year, McKeever reviewed the videos of an interview with police investigators and an interview with the 17-year-old victim at St. Luke’s Child Protection Center in reaching his verdict.
McKeever’s ruling shows the 17-year-old student told authorities he met Haglin in the spring of 2015, when she was a student teacher at Washington High. Haglin and the student admitted they met again in the fall of 2015, when Haglin returned to work as a substitute. They also admitted they began messaging each other through social media and they had sex in October 2015.
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Haglin and the student told investigators Haglin sent nude photos to him and the photos were found in his iPod account. Haglin and the student also admitted the relationship ended in early June.
Carmer amended the sexual exploitation to a felony in November, and then Haglin agreed to the non-jury trial. Haglin also lost her other motion, arguing she wasn’t considered a “school employee” under Iowa law, in an attempt to get the charge dismissed.
Carmer filed the felony charge after Haglin gave multiple interviews to the local press and national television programs, including the “Dr. Phil,” where she admitted to having the sexual relationship with the teen. During some of the interviews, she detailed the sexual encounters and how long the relationship lasted.
Carmer argued that the interviews revealed a “pattern or practice of sexual conduct” to upgrade the charge to a felony.
McKeever was set to rule on what portions of a video from the Dr. Phil episode would be allowed at trial, but Haglin made an agreement with the prosecutor on Nov. 23, to have a bench trial on the misdemeanor charge. Neither the Dr. Phil video nor or any other television interviews were evidence the judge considered.
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