Ex-Teacher of Year avoids prison on NJ sex charge

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Associated Press

Posted on April 29, 2013 at 4:35 PM

Updated Monday, Apr 29 at 4:36 PM

NEWARK, N.J. (AP) — A former New Jersey county Teacher of the Year who admits having sex with a 15-year-old student from her honors English class has been spared prison time.

A judge in Newark on Monday sentenced 33-year-old Erica DePalo to lifetime parole supervision. DePalo also will have to forfeit her teaching certificate and register as a sex offender.

Prosecutors say the Montclair resident had a short sexual relationship with a boy at West Orange High School.

A tearful DePalo apologized. She pleaded guilty in February to child endangerment. She initially was charged with aggravated sexual assault and could've faced up to 10 years in prison if convicted.

A defense attorney says antidepressants the 2011 Essex County Teacher of the Year had been incorrectly prescribed contributed to her errors in judgment but aren't an excuse.

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