Updated: October 24, 2012 at 12:00 am
A former Ellicott school board member could spend the rest of her life on probation after admitting to slipping out at night for secret trysts with a 17-year-old baby sitter in her children’s backyard playhouse.
Stefanie Dickinson, 38, tearfully apologized at her sentencing Wednesday, where her husband, Chad, was among the supporters in attendance.
“Although I have made mistakes, these mistakes don’t define who I am,” Dickinson said, struggling to maintain her composure.
Dickinson, formerly the Ellicott school board treasurer and a well-known resident of the rural community east of Colorado Springs, was arrested in 2011 on suspicion of seducing her children’s baby sitter.
Prosecutors agreed to drop charges related to sexually graphic text messages she allegedly sent a 14-year-old boy in exchange for Dickinson’s guilty plea in June to sexual assault on a child by one in a position of trust.
That offense often carries a stiff prison sentence — even a life sentence — but the plea deal allowed her to avoid prison time.
Fourth Judicial District Judge Gregory Werner accepted the terms of the agreement, ordering that she register as a sex offender and spend 10 years to life on sex offender intensive supervised probation.
The judge also sentenced her to a 90 day, suspended jail term, which she will serve only if she violates her probation.
Dickinson is barred from being in contact with anyone under 18 except her three children.
She also must submit to a mental health evaluation within 60 days.
“She preyed on children to get validation, which is entirely inappropriate and entirely unacceptable,” said lead prosecutor Laurel Cain.
While addressing the court, the mother of the younger boy said her son has grown anxious and that his grades have suffered since Dickinson sent a series of sexually explicit come-ons to his cellular phone, embroiling him in what became a public and embarrassing controversy.
“I hope that she gets the help she needs, and our family can have a little bit of closure and move on,” the woman said after the hearing.
In approving the plea deal, Werner directed harsh words toward Dickinson, whose aunt and brother praised her as a good mother and caring person who got caught up in a mistake she now regrets.
“The question you have to live with for a very long time is how you would feel if someone had done that with one of your children,” Werner said.
Werner also suggested Dickinson had failed to acknowledge or atone for what he called the “train wreck of chaos” her actions brought to the families of the boys, her own children and the town of Ellicott.
“Until you come to terms with that, I don’t think that you’re going to make a lot of headway in life or with your therapy,” Werner said.
Her attorney, Ted McClintock, said during the hearing that Dickinson has accepted guilt and wants to focus on treatment.
She intends to have her probation transferred to Texas, where she has been living for several months, McClintock said.
“It’s an unfortunate case on all sides, but I think she can turn this around and be a positive force,” McClintock said.
Contact Lance Benzel: 636-0366 Twitter @lancebenzel
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