Friday, February 15, 2008

Charlene Schmitz guilty in student sex case

By Brendan Kirby

Charlene Schmitz twitched her head ever so slightly but otherwise showed no emotion this afternoon as she learned her fate in Mobile's federal court: guilty on two counts of child enticement.

In finding the Washington County teacher guilty of using a computer and cell phone to lure one of her students for sex, the nine women and three men on the jury evidently rejected testimony from her teenage daughter, who claimed that she used her mother's Yahoo account to send salacious instant messages to the student.

In addition to the 14-year-old girl, Schmitz, herself, testified today that she did not send inappropriate electronic messages or speak sexually with him over the telephone.

The 55-year-old Leroy woman faces 10 years to life in prison. A worst-case scenario drawn up by the U.S. Probation Office suggests a prison term of more than 12½ years to 15 years, under advisory guidelines.

But her punishment could be greater if U.S. District Judge Kristi DuBose determines that the defendant lied during her testimony. Murphy said prosecutors would evaluate whether to seek a harsher penalty based on obstruction of justice.

Schmitz, who is 40 years older than the boy, also could face state charges in Washington County. Charges brought by prosecutors there remain pending before a grand jury.

Defense attorney Donald Briskman, meanwhile, said he consider an appeal and other legal options. "Anytime you don't prevail, there is disappointment," he said.

Innuendo-laced instant message logs taken from the teen's computer formed the heart of the case against Schmitz. But her daughter, Tanya Thomas, testified that she logged onto her mother's Yahoo account and pretended to be her as she traded instant messages with the boy, she said.

Thomas told jurors she had begun dating the boy after meeting him on the social networking Web site MySpace and started to suspect that he had inappropriate feelings for her mother.

Press Register

Note from Gag:
I feel the most sorry for Tanya Thomas. Not only did she feel she had to cover up for her mother's sexcapades but she also dated one of the biggest losers in Alabama. You can't live down shit like that...