This time it comes out of Florida:
WEST PALM BEACH — Former teacher Carol Flannigan sat straight up on the edge of the chair, listening with her head cocked at times, blond curls bouncing as she nodded when quizzed on whether she understood what was going on.
The defense table before her was bare, except for a single sheet of paper: a plea agreement allowing her to dodge a possible life sentence for allegedly having sex with an 11-year-old student.
Instead, Flannigan will serve only five years.
The former Rolling Green Elementary teacher was charged with capital sexual battery for an alleged 19-month relationship with the boy, including sexual acts at the school and intercourse during sleepovers at her home, on field trips and at activities.
On Monday, the prosecutor, Assistant State Attorney Jennifer Millien, boiled the crimes down to acts committed during a six-month period in 2003. Millien matter-of-factly recited how Flannigan, 51, touched the boy's private parts and how he touched hers. The elements of lewd and lascivious molestation. Nothing more.
Millien, bound by ethics rules, declined to comment on the dramatic turns the case against the teacher has taken. Earlier plea offers had ranged from 12 to 25 years.
Defense attorneys prepared an attack on the boy's family, pointing to a $1.5 million settlement an insurance company already paid to them as an example of greed. The boy's father revealed in a deposition that he also had a sexual relationship with Flannigan. The waters got cloudier and cloudier.
Defense attorney Ken Ronan said Flannigan could not risk going to trial, though. He cited her teenage autistic son, unable to care for himself, as the biggest motivator for Flannigan to be free to care for him.
"She does have a story to tell that may never get told," Ronan said.
Flannigan's alleged victim has said in statements that the relationship began with them slow-dancing to Boyz II Men in the classroom and escalated to sex acts in her Boca Raton home, where his father left him and his brothers to spend the night.