Former Cretin-Derham teacher sentenced for sex with boy, 16
Gail Elin Gagne's guilt was a foregone conclusion; the former Cretin-Derham Hall High School teacher had already admitted to having sex with a student in 2008.
But a judge told her Monday what her punishment would be: two years' probation for a 365-day sentence -- and she must register as a sex offender.
Hennepin County District Judge Richard Scherer gave the 28-year-old woman a chance to speak before he handed down the sentence, but she quietly told him she had nothing to say.
The mother of her victim had some words for the judge, though. In a victim impact statement, the woman said that she had hoped to provide a "safe, loving, healthy environment" by sending her children to the private Catholic school in St. Paul but that Gagne betrayed their trust and "damaged our lives."
"His family is left holding the dirty laundry of the defendant's unprofessional, self-serving actions," she told the judge.
She also told Scherer she'd like Gagne to pay her son's college tuition, but the judge told her that went beyond what he had the power to order.
After the hearing, both sides used the words "reasonable" and "appropriate" to describe the outcome. Then again, they had both agreed to what it would be last month when they filed a "stipulation" with the court laying out what the facts were.
"I thought it was a reasonable disposition of the case," defense lawyer Earl Gray said afterward. "Although I thought I could win it, you can also lose."
"I think we had an appropriate resolution to a very unhappy situation," said Hennepin County Attorney Michael Freeman. He said he believed the verdict and sentence would send a message to teachers, coaches and others with authority over youths that having sex with students has strong consequences.
"Society doesn't permit it, and morality doesn't permit it," Freeman said.
Things could have been worse for Gagne, the granddaughter of Robbinsdale-born pro wrestling superstar Verne Gagne, whose career lasted three decades. When she was originally charged in December 2009, she was accused of two felony counts of third-degree criminal sexual conduct for having sex with the youth, identified in court records only by the initials C.L.C.
Both sides, however, agreed to turn those two charges into a single gross misdemeanor count of fifth-degree criminal sexual conduct.
The 1 1/2-page stipulation said police reports and investigation would "establish beyond a reasonable doubt" that from January to September 2008, Gagne was employed at Cretin-Derham in a position of authority over the student, then 16, and that she had nonconsensual sexual contact with him in September 2008.
Scherer accepted the stipulation and found Gagne guilty. Before sentencing, he heard from the teen's mother, who read from a statement she had typed.
Gray, generally a garrulous and persuasive courtroom orator, had little to say when it was his turn. He noted that Gagne's bachelor's and master's degrees "went down the drain" with the conviction because she was no longer able to work in education.
Cretin-Derham Hall hired Gagne in November 2007 as an assistant basketball coach. She became supervisor of the weight room in the summer of 2008, and that September, she was hired as a full-time teacher.
The criminal charge says someone at the school called St. Paul police to report the incidents involving Gagne and the student. Detectives said the student told them he had had a work-study job in the weight room, that Gagne had taken him out for meals and given him rides home and that "on several occasions, the defendant engaged in sexual conduct with him."