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by Pamela Rogers
Sunday, Jul. 16, 2006 at 2:44 PM
A judge ignored a former teacher's sobbing pleas for mercy Friday and sentenced her to seven years in prison on charges that she sent explicit photos to a young teenager while on probation for having sex with him.
Don't these pigs have any real criminals to bust!!!!!
MCMINNVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - A judge ignored a former teacher's sobbing pleas for mercy Friday and sentenced her to seven years in prison on charges that she sent explicit photos to a young teenager while on probation for having sex with him.
When Pamela Rogers, 29, was released after serving 198 days in jail, she was under orders not to contact the student or his family or use the Internet. But authorities say that even after appearing in court on a charge of violating her probation in April, she continued talking with the boy and sending him text messages and sexually explicit photos and video of herself.
"You have done everything except show this court that you wanted to rehabilitate yourself," Warren County Circuit Judge Bart Stanley said. He revoked Rogers' probation and ordered her to serve the rest of a seven-year prison sentence that had been largely suspended.
7-year term jolts a tearful Rogers
Emotional appeal for mercy draws judge's stern rebuke
By LEON ALLIGOOD
McMINNVILLE, Tenn. — Near the end of the 59-minute probation violation hearing, convicted sexual offender Pamela Rogers rose to address the judge who would send her to jail for more than seven years.
"I'm sorry," she began.
The tears fell first as a trickle that she wiped away with a wad of tissue in a handcuffed hand, but the salty flow quickly became a river of sobs as she further apologized for the pain and the embarrassment her actions of the past two years had brought her victim and his family, her family and her friends.
Then the former elementary school gym teacher asked Circuit Court Judge Bart Stanley for mercy.
But the judge was not in a generous mood.
Less than four minutes after her tearful apology, Stanley sternly took the young woman to task for her behavior since she was paroled in February.
"The thing I can't understand is why, when you were released after seven or eight months in jail, you didn't blink an eye. You continued at that point to violate your probation and contacted this family, send lewd videos and lewd pictures to the same person," the judge told the hushed courtroom.
Sitting two rows behind Rogers in the spectators' gallery, her parents, Lamar and Karen Rogers, lowered their chins and wiped away tears.
In order to deliver a message to the state of Tennessee, the judge said in a measured voice, he was sending Rogers to the Tennessee Prison for Women to serve the remainder of the eight-year sentence that she received in August after pleading no-contest to four counts of sexual battery.
The charges involved a sexual relationship with a teenage boy, then 14, who was a student at the school where Rogers taught, Centertown Elementary. Court documents indicate she had sex with him multiple times, at school, in her car and at his home. After her conviction, she served a few months in jail, then was released on probation and ordered not to communicate with the boy.
However, authorities said that, less than two months later, she sent explicit photos and videos of herself to the boy via cameraphone. They also said she had created a Web page through MySpace.com on which she posted messages to the boy, addressing him by his basketball jersey number, saying she was still in love with him and suggesting she would wait until he turned 18 to continue their romance.
"I don't mind giving someone a second chance if there's a reasonable likelihood that they can be rehabilitated, that they will take probation seriously in an attempt to straighten their life out," the judge said in court Friday. "We all make mistakes, but you have done everything except show this court that you wanted to abide by the terms of your probation and get your life back in order and follow the law."
The decision pleased District Attorney General Dale Potter, who told reporters: "She deserves what she got."
The prosecutor said nothing in Rogers' tearful statement moved him to pity her. "I wasn't moved by anything I heard in court today except what the judge had to say about her serving the balance of her sentence,'' Potter said.
Defense attorney Peter Strianse said his client had made the decision to speak to the judge. "She was very serious about addressing the court. She's conducted herself with great grace throughout this whole thing. She's never had a cross word about anybody."
At Friday afternoon's hearing, the defense offered testimony from a Nashville psychologist, Joan Schleicher, who presented evidence that Rogers suffers from sexual addiction.
Schleicher testified that various psychological tests she administered to Rogers indicated Rogers had "two internal parts of herself." The psychologist said she did not have a split personality but had two sides to her life. One was high-functioning; the other was stuck in junior high school, for reasons unknown.
Schleicher said Rogers created an irrational and idealized world where relationships and life were perfect. But her life was not perfect, the psychologist testified.
Schleicher said the best course of action would be to enroll Rogers in a treatment center that specializes in sexual addiction.
"She can learn to control her addictions,'' she said.
After the hearing, Potter said Rogers could get psychological help at the state prison. "She will have access to treatment for sexual predators that the prison system offers. It will be up to her to take advantage of it," the district attorney general said.
Strianse offered a different view of the diagnosis: "It's truly sad. It's a pathetic obsession. I think she has suffered greatly because of it.''
Earlier in the week, the judge received letters of support for Rogers from her parents, an aunt and others. In their correspondence, the woman's parents blamed Rogers' ex-husband, Chris Turner, a former Warren County High School basketball coach, for their daughter's downward spiral. The pair accused Turner of emotional and psychological abuse.
The letters incensed Potter. "It was a low blow and a cheap shot against somebody that was not in court to defend themselves, and (they were blaming) someone that had nothing to do with this case," he said.
Turner, who no longer works in Warren County, could not be reached for comment Friday. He has not been charged with any crime.
Turner's attorney, Mike Galligan, called the letter from Rogers' mother "the statements of a desperate mother."
Galligan said Rogers' former husband divorced her because of her infidelity. He said Turner is a "very nice, clean-cut young man who wants nothing more than to distance himself from this mess."
Potter asked the judge to place the letters under seal, shielding them from public access, a request that was granted. However, many news organizations represented in court Friday, including The Tennessean, had viewed the letters as part of the court record and obtained copies.
Rogers will have 30 days to appeal Stanley's decision. Strianse said he did not know whether his client wants to appeal.
Before the probation hearing, Rogers was arraigned on four counts of sexual exploitation of a minor. Those charges stem from what the indictments call "patent-ly offensive" videos and photos she allegedly sent to the boy.
She pleaded not guilty to the charges and will be back in Warren County on Nov. 22 to set a trial date or to announce a plea with the prosecutor.
Potter indicated he was not in a dealing mood with Rogers. "She could get an additional eight years," he said.
If so, the prosecutor added, he will seek consecutive sentences.
Rogers affair blurs town's idyllic image
As she awaits new ruling, racy photos of her circle globe
By LEON ALLIGOOD
McMINNVILLE, Tenn. — The southern view from the open second-story window of the Warren County Courthouse is picturesque: In the foreground there's a charming park where yellow lilies bloom and a fountain gurgles as Main Street traffic passes by; in the distance stands the vernal face of Ben Lomand Mountain, its undulating ridgeline a witness to the town's 197 years of progress.
If the bones of William Spencer "Dad" Lively, a McMinnville photographer of note a century ago, were to be given flesh and breath, the distinguished old man would surely point the lens of his homemade camera toward this perfect tableau of small-town America.
Yet it is another image, produced not by light on a glass plate, an image not of a scene, pastoral and wholesome and symbolic of what many residents believe this town to be — God's country — that has come, of late, to symbolize McMinnville.
This other image is from the digital age, light as interpreted by computer. The quality is poor, but the context is clear: An attractive woman, blonde, dances suggestively in panties and bra.
The woman is Pamela J. Rogers, 29, former elementary school teacher.
Authorities say the dance was for a male teen with whom she had a three-month sexual relationship.
The shock of the revelation still has not begun to wane among this foothill city's 12,749 residents, many of whom think she should go to jail for a long time. Main Street store owner Sandy Elwood is one of them.
"She should take responsibility and pay the price," Elwood said.
After Rogers pleaded no-contest to the charges in 2005 and served 198 days, she was released from jail and ordered to stay away from the youth. Communication with the boy was forbidden. According to court documents, however, within a month of her release, she, among other violations, pointed a camera lens at herself, disrobed and danced.
The state of Tennessee alleges that the incriminating video was made for viewing by one, the boy, but with the act of a few simple keystrokes the image of the scantily clad Rogers circled the globe, taking the good name of McMinnville with it.
Lively, an inventor of photographic processes whose work is paid homage by no less a venerable institution as the Smithsonian, is hardly known to the public today. But Pamela Rogers' notoriety stretches from Bangor to Bangkok.
A Google search for "Pamela Rogers" turns up 215,000 hits; a search for "Pamela Rogers" and "teacher" yields 77,900.
To millions of Internet users, McMinnville is "that town in Tennessee" where the teacher had sex with the boy and danced about it.
Today, Warren County Circuit Court Judge Bart Stanley will decide whether Rogers violated the no-contact terms of her probation and, if so, what her punishment should be. In the county jail since April, she could be remanded to the state Department of Correction to serve the remainder of her original sentence, about seven years.
Rogers also will be arraigned today on four counts of sexual exploitation of a minor, new charges stemming from the photographs she allegedly made. The counts were returned by a grand jury one week ago.
According to court documents, these charges allege that Rogers "intentionally engaged in sexual activity or simulated sexual activity that is patently offensive for the purpose of having a minor … view such sexual activity or simulated sexual activity."
She faces a possible jail term of one to two years for the Class E felonies.
Jamie Shockley, 22, pumping .83-a-gallon gas into his Impala at a Shell station, made clear his feelings: Put her away.
"She knew what would happen if she did it," said Shockley, who sported a modified Mohawk hairdo, spikes of hair held flagpole-straight by the power of gel.
"Everyone else has to follow the rules, why shouldn't she?"
On Spring Street, Luis Correa, 51, a Cuban-born American and former Miamian, said Rogers should receive the maximum jail time because she was an adult who was supposed to be an example to youth.
"We trust our teachers to have the best intentions for our students. When we send our kids to school, we don't think that they are going to be part of sex with minors. It should not be,'' said Correa, who moved to McMinnville last year after he discovered the town near the end of a circuitous RV trip around the country. He bought two vacant buildings and is in the process of renovating them.
Defense attorney Peter Strianse of Nashville, who is representing Rogers, said his client should not go to jail.
"I'm convinced that if she can get the proper medical and psychological help she can learn to get along,'' said Strianse, who said his client was coping with the situation. He was interviewed by phone on Wednesday.
"She's doing fine. The Warren County Jail is pretty new, but the conditions are still pretty onerous. She's locked down in a solitary cell for 23 hours a day. It's not easy."
At Capalano's, an Internet cafe on Main Street, Roxie St. John celebrated the opening of her third store in town, the Shopping Bag, by sharing an after-work glass of white zinfandel with her grown son and daughter, Darla Roberts and Tracy Roberts.
When the subject of Rogers was brought up, the threesome momentarily considered their responses.
St. John's response was to posit a series of questions: "If she does the time and gets out, what has society gained? Will she be better? Will she be rehabilitated?"
"She'll come out lost,'' Tracy added.
"I think she needs help. She needs psychological help,'' said Darla, jumping in.
"It's not an easy question to answer,'' said St. John, who added she was glad not to have to make the decision.
Polly Woodlee does not have an answer, either. She sat in the shade of "the courthouse tree," a sugar maple that is at least 80 years old, with her great-grandchildren, Hope Rhea, 6, and Jacob Argo, 10, each enjoying a Frosty from Wendy's.
"I'm sorry it had to happen in our town. I'm sorry it had to happen anywhere,'' she said.
The city has spent .1 million transforming three and a half blocks of Main Street into a park-like thoroughfare. Visitors who stop and have their photo taken in front of the fountain understand that this is a town that cares about its appearance.
It wants to be pretty as a picture, but a pretty face has sullied the focus.
"I lived in Michigan for 20 years and missed McMinnville every day I was gone. I was so happy to move back. I was telling the kids how we used to circle the square here for fun, just drive round and round," Woodlee said.
They were different times.
"We didn't know this kind of trouble this has brought. I hate it for her, and I feel bad for the young man's family. They're hurting, too. You just don't know what would be the right thing to do in this situation. I'm just not a judge," the grandmother said, stirring her dessert with a plastic spoon.
Perhaps the sign at the First United Methodist Church a few blocks away delivers an appropriate sentiment for the unsettled town's psyche. Offering a beatitude that cannot be found in the Gospel of Matthew, the sign reads: "Blessed are the confused." •
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