Ex-Moon teacher sentenced to jail in sex case
By Bobby Kerlik
Published: Thursday, August 21, 2008
A former Moon Area High School health and gym teacher who had sex with a freshman and sent him nude pictures of herself continued to contact the student even after police arrested her, a prosecutor said Wednesday.
Beth Ann Chester, 27, of Scott was sentenced to 1 1/2 to 3 years in jail in a deal with prosecutors for pleading guilty to three charges stemming from the romantic relationship she had with the then-14-year-old boy.
"I wanted to apologize to everyone," Chester told Common Pleas Judge David R. Cashman. "I know this is the punishment I deserve. I'm really sorry for everything."
Deputy District Attorney Laura Ditka said the boy's family probably would have wanted a shorter sentence if Chester had not continued to contact the boy after her arrest.
Moon police arrested her in January. A judge put Chester on house arrest after she contacted the boy in March.
"The family feels the only way to keep their son safe and to have their son thoroughly left alone by this woman is jail time," Ditka said.
Chester faced a maximum of 22 years in prison on the three charges. Prosecutors dropped eight other charges in the plea deal that includes five years of probation. During that time, she is not allowed to contact the boy, own a cell phone or have Internet access. She relinquished her teaching license.
Chester, who was married, admitted to having sex with the boy numerous times, including once in the school parking lot.
"It's a very tough pill to swallow but it's a fair plea bargain," said her attorney, Robert Del Greco. "I think Beth liked this boy, cared for him and had a relationship with him. It was obviously a mistake."
Chester taught ninth grade and coached girls' volleyball. She resigned Dec. 27, citing personal reasons. School officials contacted police a week later.
The boy's mother found lewd messages and nude pictures of Chester that she sent to the boy's phone, Ditka said.
The family initially did not want police involvement and met with Chester at a coffee shop and told her to resign. A school colleague, in whom Chester confided, informed district officials of the reason for her resignation, Del Greco said.
"It was not the family's intention to call the police," Ditka said. "But the family is fearful he would run away with her.
"Some might think it's different when it's a female teacher and a male student, rather than a male teacher and a female student. I see no difference."
The boy initially denied they had sex until Chester admitted it, police said.
"I think Beth Ann associated and looked to her students as her peer group and because of the age discrepancy the sex acts were a crime. I'm not saying it's right, but I think that was her mindset," Del Greco said.
The boy told police he and Chester exchanged text messages since October, when a girl on the volleyball team gave Chester his number.
Ditka described how their relationship progressed as Chester sat with him at varsity football games and attended his junior varsity games. She told him to schedule study hall with her.
Chester's husband filed for divorce in February.
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