During the three years since a 15-year-old Bradenton boy’s teacher started a sexual relationship with him, he lost his chance at a regular high school experience, the now 18-year-old said in a courtroom Tuesday.
He never went to a high school football game. He never went to prom. He lost all his friends because he no longer wanted to socialize.
During his darkest period, he spent a year and a half without leaving his bedroom. He blamed himself for what happened, and one day his mother had to rush him to a hospital because he attempted to take his own life.
“What happened to my son is every parent’s worst nightmare. We are supposed to be able to send our children to school and know they are safe and taken care of by their teachers, ”the mother said through tears as she read a prepared statement.
Kassandra Moore, a former private school teacher, was convicted on March 11 after pleading guilty to four counts of sexual battery of a minor more than 12 years of age and less than 18 years of age by a person in custodial authority and one count of transmission of harmful material to a minor.
Moore was a teacher at The Broach School, 2615 26th St. W., Bradenton, in 2019 when she began the relationship with her ninth grade student.
Moore was sentenced to 20 years in prison by Circuit Judge Frederick P. Mercurio on Tuesday. Following her release from prison, Mercurio order that she serve two years of house arrest followed by eight years of sexual predator probation – noting that it was the longest term of supervision he could order.
As part of her supervision, she was also ordered to undergo another psychological evaluation within 30 days of her release from prison and undergo any treatment or take any medication ordered. She was also ordered to attend sex offender treatment during that same time.
Moore, who also goes by her married name Kassandra Taylor, is prohibited from contacting the victim or having any intentional contact with anyone under the age of 18. She will also be designated a sexual predator.
The former teacher was ordered to pay restitution to the victim, an amount to be later determined to ensure that he gets any counseling any help dealing with the trauma, Mercurio said.
On Tuesday, reading a prepared statement, Moore asked the judge not to send her to prison.
While awaiting trial, Moore had been out on bond until remanded into sheriff’s office custody following her March plea. She saw two different mental health professionals before undergoing a psychological evaluation as part of the court mandated pre-sentencing investigation.
However, she refused to discuss the criminal charges she faced with the first counselor and later with a licensed psychiatrist. She also did not continue with regular counseling or take the medication prescribed to her by the psychiatrist.
Moore’s defense attorney, Andrew Pouget, told the court she has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, multiple personality disorder, unspecified sexual dysfunction, post-traumatic stress disorder and cleidocranial dysplasia, a rare genetic condition that affects teeth and bones, such as the skull, face, spine, collarbones and legs. Among the possible symptoms are small stature – Moore is about 4 feet 8 inches tall and weighs between 80-85 pounds.
If she went to prison, Moore and her attorney argued that she would not get the help she needs.
“Ms. Moore said that instead of therapy and medication, she sought emotional support from a few close friends as well as her husband. She said she also attends church and talks to a pastor, ”Mercurio said Tuesday.
However, the judge said that was a “rejection of psychological treatment.”
“I heard her say in her own words how she would be deprived if I sent her to prison because she would not get this treatment. Yet while she is out on bond has the nerve to tell me she could not even participate while on bond. How could I believe both? ” Mercurio said raising his voice in apparent frustration.
The biggest irony in the case, the judge said, is that Moore has a degree in psychology.
“She said she felt emotional highs for days because of her interaction with the boys,” Mercurio went to read from the report. “She has a lot of difficulty taking responsibility for her own choices. She feels as if she is the victim. She has a constant need for attention and adoration. ”
“I have no doubt that she suffers from mental illness … But when you reject medications the psychiatrist gave you and then sit here and tell me not to send you to prison because you will not have access to that treatment, I am sorry I just do not buy it, ”Mercurio concluded before moving on to his sentence.