Lauren Redfern, a former female Basalt High School gym teacher who had been charged with sexual assault on a student, was sentenced Tuesday but faces no prison time and may even be released from jail later this week.
Redfern, 26, was arrested in February after she was caught by the school's athletic director having sex with a student in the teacher's restroom. At the time Redfern was charged with two felony counts of sexual assault on a child by a person in a position of trust with a pattern of sexual abuse, a class 3 felony.
"They were caught in a room they shouldn't have been in together and that's what started this investigation. And they admitted what was going on," Eagle County Undersheriff Mike McWilliams told CBS4 shortly after Redfern's arrest.
Redfern, who also taught varsity girls' basketball at Basalt High School, resigned after her arrest and reportedly entered a plea deal just three months later. As part of that deal, Redfern pleaded guilty to a lesser felony charge of contributing to the delinquency of a minor and the Eagle County District Attorney's Office agreed to dismiss the sexual assault on a child charges. According to that deal, Redfern wouldn't even have been added to the sex offender registry.
If she had been convicted on the original charges, Redfern could have spent up to 16 years in prison.
When exactly the two began their sexual relationship was a crucial point in this case because in Colorado a 17-year-old can have sexual relations with an adult, but not with a teacher, since teachers hold a position of trust. Therefore when the the two were caught together in the teacher's bathroom, no unlawful sex act had been committed because the student was 18 -- although it did violate school policies.
“The fact that he was almost 18 (played a part) and I think, ultimately too what we were looking for, was if there was any ‘grooming' behavior on the part of Ms. Redfern, and there was not,” Eagle County District Attorney Mark Hurlbert told the Aspen Times.
Eagle County Court Judge Katherine Sullivan even lowered Redfern's bond to $5,000 saying she didn't believe Redfern was a flight risk since Redfern grew up in the Roaring Fork Valley. The condition was that she wouldn't consume alcohol or leave the state without written permission from the court.
Then Redfern, who was still awaiting sentencing, violated that bond just days after being released. According to The Denver Post she was arrested near Lake Powell, Utah when campers complained a group of people were shooting guns, drinking alcohol and harassing passersby.
Officers found cans of beer, 28 hallucinogenic mushrooms, ammunition and a 12-gauge shotgun among Redfern and her group. In a statement, the officers say Redfern admitted to drinking and illegally firing the weapon.
But on Tuesday Redfern was ultimately sentenced to 180 days in jail, 150 days of which would be suspended pending other requirements, plus she will be credited with time already served. Redfern was ordered to avoid drugs and alcohol, and complete four years supervised probation and treatment for sex offenders.