HIGHGATE — Former Highgate school paraeducator Josie Spears pleaded guilty Wednesday afternoon to two counts of lewd and lascivious conduct, one count of lewd and lascivious conduct with a child, two counts of prohibited conduct and a count of violating court-ordered conditions of release.
The surprise change of plea came a year and nine months after Spears’ arrest on charges that she sent an elementary-age boy sexually explicit photographs and, on at least one occasion, coerced the boy into lascivious physical contact.
The boy’s parents were in Franklin County Superior Court yesterday afternoon for Spears’ sentencing, as was the boy himself. Victim’s Advocate Kelly Woodward read a prepared statement for the boy’s mother, who was too emotional to do so herself.
In the statement, the boy’s mother said one newspaper’s identification of the boy and his family had destroyed their lives, that the family had to pull the boy out of school and move away due to the resulting bullying, as well as calls from parents who refused to let their children play with him.
The Messenger has not provided any identifying information about the boy or his family. It is our policy not to identify alleged victims in cases of sexual abuse, or juveniles in any case.
In this case, the victim’s mother said her son has now been diagnosed with depression and post-traumatic stress disorder, and that she and her husband must be “very vigilant” because her son has been “hypersexualized.”
“I trusted her and she betrayed that trust I had given to her,” the mother wrote, in her statement.
“We brought our son here to show him that reporting a crime does work… that coming to adults is the right thing to do.”
Read the full details of the Josie Spears case in a copy of Thursday’s Messenger or subscribe to our digital edition.