A Larimer County judge chided teacher Carrie McCandless, a principal's wife, for acting like a love-struck teen and sentenced her to 45 days in jail for a sexual liaison with a 17-year-old student.
Judge James Hiatt told the 30-year-old former Brighton Charter High School teacher that she was supposed to be the trusted adult who set the boundaries.
"All of this sounds like something a 16- or-17-year-old student would be doing and would have been expelled for," he said.
McCandless got the maximum sentence under an April deal with prosecutors in which she pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor count of having unlawful sexual contact, a second misdemeanor count of contributing to the delinquency of a minor and a felony count of tampering with physical evidence. She will serve five years probation and be required to register as a sex offender.
The sentencing capped a lurid saga of the striking blond teacher accused of having a sexual tryst with a teen boy while chaperoning an overnight school trip to YMCA of the Rockies camp in Estes Park in October. She was fired from the Brighton charter school, where her husband, Chris, is principal.
Prosecutor Michael Pierson showed the judge a note that McCandless and the victim had passed back and forth after the incident at the camp.
McCandless didn't deny in the note that the incident occurred, the prosecutor stressed. Instead, she wrote that she was "f---ed up in the head."
She was way over the line morally, ethically and according to criminal law, the prosecutor said.
"It wasn't a onetime casual encounter," Pierson told the judge. "It was as if the defendant was grooming the victim.
"She is probably one of the prettiest teachers in school. She brought a bottle of alcohol (on the trip) and was sharing it with the victim and his friends."
During the overnight trip, a female student said she awoke to overhear McCandless and the boy talking about the first time they had sex with each other, Pierson recounted.
But the teacher's defense attorney, M. Trent Trani, said the young witness gave differing accounts and didn't recognize the two figures making out on the floor in the dim light.
In McCandless's version, she was slumbering in a sleeping bag on the floor when she was awakened by the boy fondling her from behind, Trani said.
In court today,as McCandless, clad in a tailored white shirt and black slacks, was led away, she blew a kiss to her husband and friends, saying: "Goodbye, guys."