A former Calhan high school teacher who acknowledged having sex with at least one underage student will serve 45 days in jail followed by a probationary term lasting up to the rest of her life, a judge ruled Tuesday.
Amanda Katherine Rowles, 28, wept as she was taken into custody after the penalty was pronounced by 4th Judicial District Judge David A. Gilbert at a packed sentencing.
"You had half a lifetime of experience, understanding and knowledge over these children," Gilbert said, raking Rowles for the "harm, anxiety and anger" her actions caused to the boys, their families and the community.
Rowles, who taught choir and drama at Calhan High from 2009 to 2012, was charged with sex crimes against two underage boys, both students at Calhan. She pleaded guilty in October to sexual assault by one in a position of trust, and all remaining counts were dismissed.
The abuse spanned two school years, and Rowles began a relationship with one student shortly after breaking up with the other, fracturing the boys' friendship, said lead prosecutor Kelson Castain. He said investigators considered filing charges related to a third former student, but couldn't prove they had sex while he was underage.
Rowles and that person, who is now of age, are still dating, said Castain, citing Rowles' admissions during a pre-sentencing investigation.
"They are both adamant that the relationship started after he graduated," he said.
As part of her penalty, Rowles must register as a sex offender and submit to 10 years to life on sex offender intensive supervised probation.
Rowles is also barred from having contact with anyone under 18 -- spelling the end of her career teaching children.
Gilbert, who spoke of wanting to avoid "an obvious double standard" by which women are treated less severely than men for coercing sex from minors, said he tacked on the jail term "as a reminder of the harm that you caused."
The sentencing followed presentations by two counselors who said Rowles was genuinely remorseful and should be considered for probation.
Her encounters with the underage boys were fueled in part by battles over depression and poor self-esteem, said Paul Isenstadt, a social worker retained by the defense.
Clutching a tissue in her hand, Rowles delivered a tearful apology to "all those who were victimized by my actions."
"I fully understand the magnitude of my choices and for that I am truly sorry," she said.
The two boys involved wrote letters to the court but did not attend the hearing. Their families declined to comment on the way out of court.