A DeWitt woman will serve jail time followed by four years on probation after having an inappropriate relationship with a minor while working as a paraeducator for Beatrice Public Schools.
Casey L. Schaefer, 29, of DeWitt was sentenced Wednesday afternoon in Gage County District Court.
She was sentenced to 24 months probation for contributing to the delinquency of a minor and 24 months of probation for negligent child abuse, both class 1 misdemeanors. The two probation terms will be served consecutively, totaling 48 months.
A plea agreement amended the child abuse charge to include “negligent,” reducing the charge from a class 3A felony.
An additional class 4 felony charge of enticement by an electronic communication device was dismissed as part of the agreement.
She will also serve 90 day in Gage County Jail as part of the sentence. Defense attorney Lee Timan requested that she be allowed to turn herself in to the jail in January to allow her to spend the holidays with her daughter.
Judge Rick Schreiner denied that request, but did order that she may turn herself in on Dec. 3.
“I know it’s difficult,” Schreiner said. “I never take decisions like this lightly and I don’t like putting people in jail, much less putting them in jail over the holidays. This is a serious offense, and I would like to do what she wants me to do, but what she wants to do is why we’re here today.”
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Schaefer was arrested in January after reports were made to Beatrice police concerning social media messages between Schaefer and a 14-year-old male from Beatrice.
The messages appeared to be enticing and questionable in nature.
Schaefer and the boy were both questioned and evidence was discovered that led to Schaefer’s arrest.
Timan argued that the relationship did not escalate to the same level of seriousness some cases have, and pointed out that Schaefer has no criminal history and scored among the lowest of any client he’s had for risk to reoffend.
“Clearly, this was not something where she was looking to put herself in this situation and certainly she understands she’s the adult and the young man involved certainly was not at fault in any way, but I don’t think this is a situation we’re ever going to see again,” Timan said. “She has no prior criminal history, she has otherwise led a very law-abiding life.”
Timan also stressed that Schaefer has shown remorse and apologized to those involved.
“It’s an unfortunate case,” he said. “I know that Mrs. Schaefer has many times expressed her remorse to everyone she can. She lost her employment. She’s never going to be involved in the educational field again and has accepted that. It’s certainly had an impact on her family life and her relationship with her husband.”
The Gage County Attorney’s Office recommended a sentence of probation in the case along with defense attorneys. While the bulk of the sentence handed down was probation, Schreiner added that not including a jail term would have depreciated the seriousness of the crime.
“You had some stressors in your life, not just at that time but I think previous to that that you hadn’t really dealt with appropriately,” Schreiner said. “To call what you did here inappropriate is a gross understatement, because it’s criminal. I read the police reports, all of them, and you clearly committed these crimes and maybe more.”