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February 14, 2014

Ex-teacher gets 6 years in sex case

TERRE HAUTE — A former middle school teacher has been sentenced to six years in prison after admitting that she had sex with a 14-year-old student at school and at her home.

Erin Baynard Stewart was tearful on the witness stand Friday afternoon in Vigo Superior Court 6, where she said, “If I didn’t do what I did, I wouldn’t be sitting here.” Her  statement was in response to a question from defense attorney Steven Blakely asking if she allowed the sexual encounter with the student to occur.

Stewart, 34, was arrested April 30, 2010, for sexual misconduct with a minor as the result of an investigation by Terre Haute Police that began after the victim’s mother made a complaint to police. According to court records, the first alleged sexual encounter between the then-14-year-old student and the teacher occurred in her classroom in December 2009, while additional encounters took place at Stewart’s home.

The plea agreement in the case called for a sentencing cap of eight years. Deputy Prosecutor Raeanna Moore asked Judge Michael Lewis to sentence Stewart to eight years, in part because Stewart continued to make statements blaming the victim for the encounters.

Lewis ordered a six-year sentence with two years to be served in prison, followed by two years on home detention and two years on formal probation. He also ordered her to register as a sex offender, and recommended counseling through a Department of Correction program.

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