ALFRED, Maine — A former RSU 57 teacher, charged by sheriff’s deputies with having sex with a 15-year-old student last year, pleaded guilty this morning and was ordered to spend seven years of a 12-year sentence in prison.
Jessica Pomerleau, 36, of Limerick, was led away in handcuffs after pleading guilty to two counts of gross sexual assault and two counts of aggravated furnishing of scheduled drugs, all Class C felonies. The plea arrangement worked out by prosecutor Kent Avery and defense attorney John Webb also calls for six years probation and for Pomerleau to register as a sex offender for 10 years.
Pomerleau, wearing a tan pantsuit with her hair in a French braid, made a brief statement before Justice John O’Neil at York County Superior Court.
“I apologize for all the pain …” she said, in part. “I have deep sorrow …”
Pomerleau was a special education teacher in Massabesic High School’s “Success” alternative education program when she was arrested last fall after the mother of a student told School Resource Deputy Jason Solomon of the York County Sheriff’s Office that Pomerleau had an inappropriate relationship with a boy who had been her student.
Avery said if the case had proceeded to trial, the evidence would have shown that Pomerleau and the student had several sexual encounters — the boy told investigators there were least seven — and communicated through Facebook and other electronic media. Some text messages found on the victim’s cellphone alluded to a sexual relationship, while others were more explicit, he said. Avery said had the case proceeded to trial, the evidence would have shown that Pomerleau provided the victim with marijuana and alcohol.
Pomerleau was employed by RSU 57 since 2007. The RSU 57 School Board terminated her contract Feb. 1.
Many of the sexual encounters took place in Pomerleau’s car at locations in Lyman, and at least once in the area of the Maine Mall parking lot in South Portland, said Avery. He referred to an encounter that took place in New Hampshire, as evidenced by GPS records from her vehicle.
Avery told the judge that he had communicated with the victim’s family, and they were satisfied with the plea arrangement. Neither the victim or his family appeared at the court hearing.
The Journal Tribune has a policy against identifying victims of sex crimes.
The plea this morning not only avoids a Superior Court trial but additional prosecutions in other jurisdictions. Webb, Pomerleau’s attorney, said following the 20-minute hearing that his client agreed to plead guilty to avoid exposure to a lengthier federal sentence. Webb said the New Hampshire U.S. Attorney’s Office had been pursuing the case because of the allegation that a sexual encounter with the boy had taken place in that state. The federal penalty for crossing state lines with a juvenile in those circumstances is 10 years in prison, Webb pointed out. Adding other factors, like the fact Pomerleau was a teacher and the victim her student, would have added additional time in federal prison, had she been convicted following a federal trial.
For more on this story, see Friday’s Journal Tribune.