Teacher Pleads Guilty to Having Sex With Student
A former Simi Valley high school teacher accused of having a sexual relationship with one of her male students said Tuesday that fear of publicity from a trial prompted her to plead guilty.
Carol Dougherty, 44, accepted the Ventura County district attorney’s plea bargain offer and pleaded guilty Monday in Ventura County Superior Court to three counts of oral copulation.
The charges carry a maximum prison sentence of 4 years, but prosecutors said Judge Charles McGrath has indicated that he will not sentence Dougherty to prison.
Dougherty resigned from her English teaching post at Royal High School on Dec. 20 after the mother of the 16-year-old student complained to Simi Valley Unified School District officials. Dougherty admitted that she had an affair with the youth in November and December.
The school district last week rejected a $2-million claim by the student and his parents, who alleged that the affair damaged them mentally and emotionally.
Defense attorney Les Nadasi said he had been prepared to argue at trial that the student was a willing participant in the affair.
Dougherty’s plea surprised the prosecutor, Deputy Dist. Atty. Chuck Campbell, who said the former teacher had rejected the plea bargain offer last week.
“I’m glad for the victim, that he doesn’t have to come in and testify,” Campbell said.
Dougherty said Tuesday that the thought of a trial and the expected publicity sparked her decision to accept the offer. Dougherty is the estranged wife of the chairman of the Ventura County Board of Supervisors, James Dougherty.
“It’s just been so much strain the past four months,” the former teacher said.