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Guilty plea in hope for mercy
An ex-school band director pleads guilty to having sex with a student.
By JAMAL THALJI, Times Staff Writer
Published January 9, 2008
Michael Aaron Black said no to a plea deal that would have meant 15 years.
DADE CITY - Michael Aaron Black has accepted responsibility for his crime - without even knowing what the punishment will be.
The former Pasco Middle School band director pleaded guilty on Monday to three counts of lewd and lascivious battery, for having sex with a former student multiple times before his arrest in 2006.
But there was no plea deal on the table when Black, 28, pleaded guilty.
Instead, he threw himself at the mercy of the court. Black left his punishment up to Circuit Judge Pat Siracusa, who will decide his fate at the March 11 sentencing.
Black faced between 22 and 45 years in prison if he had gone to trial and been convicted. The state was willing to strike a deal on 15 years in prison, according to Assistant Public Defender Steve Herman.
But Herman found even that sentence too high.
"We don't think that in the grand scheme of things that 15 years is a good offer," Herman said Tuesday.
Herman said he's seen defendants in similar crimes receive less prison time than that. Now he just has to convince the judge that a lesser sentence is appropriate - and hope his client doesn't lose that gamble with a sentence of more than 15 years.
Black is a first-time offender, but it is an offense that has cost him everything. He resigned soon after the allegations came to light and was in the process of being divorced from the mother of his two young children.
Dade City police say when Black was arrested in September 2006 he had already been having intercourse with the victim for months - and even did so in the school's band room just before his arrest.
The victim turned 14 during their relationship, which came to light when her parents grew suspicious of all the calls she was receiving from the male teacher.
The victim's identity is being withheld because of the nature of the charges. Her mother said she would support the 15-year offer, the defense said, but wanted more. "She wanted the maximum," Herman said.