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Ex-teacher pleads guilty in sex case

  Court Watch  -   POSTED: 2007/04/25 09:06

The former Brighton Charter Academy teacher accused of fondling one of her students and providing him with alcohol during an overnight trip to Estes Park pleaded guilty Tuesday to three charges.

Carrie McCandless, 29, pleaded to tampering with physical evidence, contributing to the delinquency of a minor and unlawful sexual contact.

Under the plea agreement, McCandless avoids prison, but will serve 45 days in the Larimer County jail. She also will serve a 5 year deferred sentence and will spend time in a sex offender program with intensive supervised probation. A sentencing hearing for McCandless is scheduled for June 8.

"Due to the possible consequences of going to trial and being unsuccessful, Ms. McCandless felt like she was in a position that she had to accept the plea bargain," defense attorney Trent Trani said.

McCandless was charged with sexual assault on a child by one in a position of trust and contributing to the delinquency of a minor.

"There was never any kind of sexual intercourse or anything other than Mr. Clay fondling her," Trani said. "It's ridiculous to assert that she subjected him to this contact and I think that's what should have been heard by a jury."

The victim, Tommy Clay, appeared on national TV last month. Clay said he and McCandless became friends during a summer school session because he found it easy to talk with her.

Clay said when another teacher discovered the relationship, "I told Mrs. McCandless that I would take the fall for it. I didn't want her ending up losing her job and I figured I had a lot less to lose than she did."

She was 29 and Clay was 17 at the time, authorities said. McCandless was fired. Her husband, Chris, is principal of the school in Brighton, on the northeast edge of the Denver area.


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