Daily Herald
Ex-McHenry High teacher admits to sexual encounter with student
By Charles Keeshan | Daily Herald Staff
Published: 3/11/2008 12:08 PM | Updated: 3/11/2008 9:11 PM

A former McHenry High School teacher admitted in court Tuesday to having sexual contact with a 17-year-old male student in 2006 as part of a plea bargain in which she will stay out of jail if she steers clear of further trouble for the next two years.

Laura E. Sieradzki, 34, was sentenced to two years' probation, ordered to pay a $5,000 fine and must register as a sex offender under the deal in which she pleaded guilty to a reduced charged of criminal sexual abuse.

A former Palatine resident now living in Freeport, she also received a 180-day sentence in the McHenry County jail but will not serve that time unless she violates the conditions of her probation.

Sieradzki, at the time a special-education teacher at McHenry High School's West Campus, initially was charged with criminal sexual assault and aggravated criminal sexual abuse stemming from the March 29, 2006, incident. If convicted of those charges she would have faced a minimum of four years in prison and been required to register as a sex offender for the rest of her life.

Under the reduced charges she admitted to Tuesday, she was allowed probation and must register only for the next 10 years.

"It gives her the ability to move on with her life after a period of time," her attorney, Mary Cay Marubio, said. "This is a good person who made some bad judgments."

Prosecutors said they took into consideration the wishes of the student involved in the case in deciding to plea bargain.

"It was very embarrassing to him, and he preferred not to testify publicly about the offense," said Nichole Owens, criminal chief for the McHenry County state's attorney's office.

The charges allege that while at a high-school party in Wonder Lake, Sieradzki and the 17-year-old boy stepped outside and into a parked car where a sexual encounter took place.

The boy was a student at McHenry West but not in any of Sieradzki's classes. He was just four days away from his 18th birthday, at which time the incident would have been legal.

Sieradzki also admitted guilt Tuesday to one of two misdemeanor charges alleging she gave two teenage girls body piercings in 2006. Her sentence on that charge will run concurrently with two-year probation term.

McHenry High School District 156 dismissed Sieradzki shortly after she was charged in April 2006, and state authorities have since revoked her teaching license for at least 50 years. She is now working in an office setting, Marubio said.