Former 'Idol' singer heads for rehab

But she must return if California won't accept a probation transfer within 45 days.

By COLLEEN JENKINS, Times Staff Writer
Published January 11, 2008

TAMPA - Hillsborough Circuit Judge Daniel Perry scolded ex-American Idol contestant Jessica Sierra on Thursday for chatting with reporters but allowed her to fly immediately to California for drug and alcohol rehab.

The judge approved a travel permit Monday, then had to reconsider it after learning that California officials would not expedite a probation transfer.

If the transfer isn't approved within 45 days, Perry said, Sierra, 22, must come home.

He ordered her not to go within 100 yards of a television camera or microphone.

At Monday's hearing, at which Sierra admitted violating her probation on earlier charges, Perry said he didn't want her giving interviews during her one year in rehab and two subsequent years of probation.

But as soon as she left Falkenburg Road Jail on Wednesday, Sierra stopped to talk to reporters. The judge caught the interview on TV. He said he also heard she posed for a picture with a fan after leaving a meeting with probation officers.

"Those microphones are like a magnet for you," Perry said. "You're not a celebrity. You're a drug addict."

Perry said he had concerns about how the Pasadena Recovery Center, where Sierra underwent treatment for the VH1 reality series Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew, will now deal with her pregnancy.

John Fitzgibbons, Sierra's attorney, said the staff was prepared to provide prenatal care.

Sierra was sentenced to probation in November on battery and cocaine possession charges, accused of throwing a cocktail glass at a Hyde Park Cafe patron's head and having the drug in her purse. An episode in Ybor City in December caused her to violate the terms of the probation and pick up new misdemeanor charges of disorderly intoxication and obstructing an officer without violence.

Colleen Jenkins can be reached at cjenkins@sptimes.com or 813 226-3337.