Tuesday, June 06, 2000

Sex with student nets prison

Judge rejects defendant's plea for treatment

By Sheila McLaughlin
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Lisa Karabinus looks to her attorney after hearing her prison sentence.
(Dick Swaim photo)
| ZOOM |
        LEBANON — Her psychologist described her as a sick woman who needed treatment instead of prison. But prosecutors said Monday that former Kings Junior High biology teacher Lisa Karabinus knew that luring a 13-year-old student into a sexual affair was wrong.

        In an emotionally charged hearing wrought with tearful pleas for mercy from Mrs. Karabinus' family — and demands for a stiff sentence from the student's parents — Judge Neal Bronson decided there was only one way to make things right.

        He sent Mrs. Karabinus to prison for four years — a year less than the maximum.

        “Treatment is not salve to the victim or his family,” Judge Bronson said as Mrs. Karabinus stood before him for sentencing in Warren County Common Pleas Court.

        “Some think that because the perpetrator is a female, the offense is somehow less unconscionable. ... That's not a feeling I share.”

        Mrs. Karabinus, 29, sobbed openly as she apologized to the family of the boy, who is now 14. He did not attend the sentencing hearing in the packed courtroom Monday.

        “I know the pain they feel will be everlasting, and I can never take it away. I'm just so terribly sorry,” she said before Judge Bronson ordered her to prison.

        Mrs. Karabinus pleaded guilty to a single count of sexual battery in March, avoiding a possible grand jury indictment on a list of felony charges involving the sexual relationship that started in December 1999, when she taught at the school.

        Authorities have not gone into detail about the case, but in an affidavit supporting a request for a search warrant of Mrs. Karabinus' home and car, they said the boy told authorities that he and Mrs. Karabinus had consensual sex numerous times at her house in Maineville, at the school and in her car.

        The situation came to light March 25, when the boy told his parents he was going out for a jog and did not return until 2 a.m. Mrs. Karabinus picked up the boy at a prearranged site when her husband was out of town and drove the boy to her home, court documents said.

        In a prepared statement read in court Monday, the boy's mother called Mrs. Karabinus a selfish woman who used the boy to “fulfill her sick needs.”

        The woman said her son will need years of counseling as a result.

        “I live in constant fear you will be waiting around every corner,” she told Mrs. Karabinus.

        Breaking down in tears at the lectern, John Karabinus, her husband of six years and a fellow teacher at Kings Junior High, asked Judge Bronson to order his wife into counseling instead of prison. Otherwise, their 2-year-old son would suffer without his mother, he said.

        But, by Monday afternoon, Mr. Karabinus had filed for divorce and custody of the child.

        Despite the four-year sentence, Mrs. Karabinus can ask Judge Bronson to consider her release in six months, Warren County Prosecutor Tim Oliver said. He would not say whether he would oppose such a move.

        “I think we sent the kind of message I wanted to send. ... We wanted to make certain this never happens again and make sure no teacher ever steps over that line again,” he said.

        Jeff Hamilton, a friend of the boy's family who wrote to the judge and asked for the harshest sentence, said no amount of prison time could rectify what happened for the boy and his family.

        “I don't think any amount of time would have been enough. The damage is already done and there is nothing you can take back,” Mr. Hamilton said. “They will never be the same.”


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