Karen Susan Patton
WYTHEVILLE -- A former Wythe County teacher will spend nearly four years in prison for becoming sexually involved with two of her teenage students, a judge ruled Tuesday.
Karen Susan Patton, 42, was a seventh-grade English teacher and cheerleading coach at Scott Memorial Middle School when it came to light last year that she had been involved in a relationship with a 13-year-old boy.
The boy's mother went to police with instant messages between Patton and the boy and what appeared to be a letter written by Patton referring to a sexual relationship.
Patton was arrested Jan. 27, 2006. She resigned that day from the middle school, where she had taught for about a year and a half after teaching in Carroll County for more than a decade.
The next month, Patton was charged with molesting two other boys, one of them in July 2004 and the other in August 2004. Both had been her students.
She was charged on seven counts: Four of carnal knowledge, one of nonforcible sodomy and two of contributing to the delinquency of a minor.
At a March hearing, Patton pleaded no contest to two counts of carnal knowledge and the sodomy charge. The other charges were dropped, including all the charges related to the third boy.
At her sentencing hearing Tuesday in Wythe County Circuit Court, which was closed to the media and the public, statements were read aloud that addressed how the two boys were affected by their relationships with their teacher, according to Commonwealth's Attorney Gerald Mabe.
Circuit Judge Joey Showalter closed the hearing, which lasted about 50 minutes, at the request of Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney Daronda Combs. Showalter also sealed court records that identify the victims or their families.
Mabe said after the hearing that it was closed to protect the confidentiality of the victims, though both their families have moved out of the Wythe County area and they weren't present at the hearing. The letters read aloud contained their names, he said.
According to evidence summarized at the March hearing, Patton "carnally knew" one 13-year-old boy at her home Jan. 17, 2006, and another in August 2004.
Carnal knowledge could be intimate touching, oral or anal sex or intercourse.
Patton, who testified at Tuesday's hearing, was sentenced to a total of 25 years in prison -- 10 on each count of carnal knowledge and five on the sodomy charge -- with all but three years and 11 months suspended.
Patton has been out on bond since shortly after her arrest but was taken to the New River Valley Regional Jail in Dublin after Tuesday's hearing. She will later be transferred to a penitentiary.
Upon her release, Patton will spend five years on active probation.
Mabe said there was no plea agreement in the case.
Patton already is registered as a sex offender and her photo is posted on the Virginia sex offender database.
Her defense attorneys, Clinton Kegley and Robert Galumbeck, couldn't be reached for comment after the hearing.
Mabe said he was satisfied with the outcome of the case.
"I think justice was served," he said. "It's nice to see there was an active sentence."
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