tampabay.com

Ex-teacher in Escambia convicted in teen sex case

By ASSOCIATED PRESS
Published July 23, 2006


PENSACOLA- A former Escambia County teacher was convicted of having sex with an underage student at a private school where she taught before working at the public Escambia High School.

Janelle Marie Bird, 25, was found guilty Friday of two counts of unlawful sexual activity with a minor and two lesser counts of unnatural and lascivious act.

She was charged in December for having a two-year affair with a student from East Hill Christian School. The boy was 15 when the affair began.

Bird admitted the affair and testified Thursday that she loved the teen.

The teen testified that he had loved Bird. But when asked by defense attorney Jerry Allred if he still loved her, the 16-year-old responded with, "Uh ... nah."

Allred said he was disappointed for Bird, who will have to register as a sex offender.

But he said he was not surprised at the verdict.

"There was no legal defense," Allred said Friday after the verdict was read.

Bird, who faces up to 30 years in prison, is scheduled to be sentenced Oct. 4.

She is free on bond and plans to return to her hometown in Virginia, Minn.

Bird left East Hill Christian School in June 2005 for a job with the Escambia County School District.

She was teaching reading to freshmen and sophomores at Escambia High School when the allegations surfaced.

The Escambia County School Board voted Nov. 22 to fire Bird without cause before her probationary status expired.