WEST JORDAN, Utah – A judge went beyond the recommended sentence and ordered 90 days in jail Wednesday for a former sign-language teacher who had sex with a 16-year-old student.
"I abhor what you have done here," 3rd District Judge Stephen Roth told Melinda Lee DeLuca, 30.
In an agreement with prosecutors, DeLuca last year pleaded guilty to attempted forcible sexual abuse, a third-degree felony.
DeLuca had sex with the boy while she was a teacher at Copper Hills High School in the Jordan School District. She was fired in December 2005.
Although not offering an excuse, defense attorney Earl Xaiz said DeLuca had been taking an anti-seizure medication that can change behavior.
"She understands that she was a teacher, he was a student, and she crossed a line," Xaiz said.
The maximum punishment was five years in prison. Pre-sentence investigators recommended 60 days in jail, but the judge ordered 90. DeLuca, who has two daughters, 3 and 5, must get sex-offender treatment and reimburse the boy for counseling.
DeLuca's remorse, the lack of prior crimes and forgiveness by the boy's family spared her from a year in jail, Roth said.
"Even though she's hurt my family, I've grown to love her," the victim's mother said. "I want whatever happens to her to be what is best for her."