HOLYOKE – She wore a grey sweater and a glum expression as she faced Judge Kenneth Cote in Court Room “A” in Holyoke District Court last Friday morning.
Lisa M. Lavoie, the accused school teacher who ran off with a 15-year-old male student from the Maurice A. Donahue Elementary School, posted a $25,000 cash bail shortly after her arraignment on the charge of enticement of a minor under the age of 16.
Lavoie faces additional charges related to the case that may include statutory rape. The case is considered an ongoing investigation by the Hampden County District’s Attorney’s Office.
Assistant District Attorney James Goodhines had asked the judge that Lavoie’s be held on a $100,000 cash bail or $1 million surety. He then requested that Lavoie wear an electronic monitoring bracelet or GPS device upon release.
The day before her arraignment, detectives from the Holyoke Police Department and the Massachusetts State police rushed Lavoie past reporters and news cameramen who crowded the sidewalks outside of Holyoke Police Department Headquarters.
Goodhines told the court on Friday that police took statements from both the minor and the minor’s friends. Search warrants were issued in both West Virginia and Massachusetts as investigators searched the defendant’s automobile and her residence in Ludlow.
“The Commonwealth believes we uncovered additional evidence that will support those additional charges,” said Goodhines. “There will more than one count sought by the Commonwealth for the statutory rape charge.”
Goodhines said the relationship between Lavoie and the boy, which began in October 2008, started off as friendly at first. He said the relationship turned sexual a short-time later. He added that the alleged acts took place at Lavoie’s home and in her vehicle.
Goodhines told the judge that once the relationship began to unravel and become known to authorities, Lavoie made plans to leave the state with the boy. He said the teacher then drove to Vermont, Delaware, Pennsylvania, New York, and eventually to Morgantown, W.VA where she was discovered with the minor at a Super 8 Motel.
He said prior to Lavoie’s flight from Massachusetts, police tried to make contact with her about the relationship. Statements made by the minor and other individuals, according to Goodhines, said Lavoie had planned to take the boy to either Canada or Mexico and that the boy should obtain a copy of his birth certificate.
Lavoie’s attorney, who offered a not guilty plea on behalf of his client, told the judge that Lavoie had no prior criminal record and that “I doubt she ever committed an anti-social act,” said Hoose. “She’s a very nice, young woman from a very good family with long and stable roots in the community.”
Hoose added that Lavoie is not a flight risk or a risk to offend other than the minor in question. He said his client left the area with no criminal charges against her.
The boy now attends school outside the district and has been in the custody of the Department of Social Services since his return. Because he is a minor, little information has been released by authorities about the student.
“She fled because she was obviously in a state of emotional turmoil,” said Hoose. “And without belaboring that point, the statement of the young man, that I read for the first time this morning, acknowledges that she was in a severe, emotional crisis which was being fueled by her consumption of alcohol at the time.”
He said that Lavoie left the area in panic with no clear destination in mind and that she and the boy drove aimlessly around the Northeast. “The young man indicates in his statement, ‘we told people we were going to Mexico or Canada, but we really weren’t, we didn’t have a plan do that. We were just driving,’” said Hoose.
Besides the $25,000 bail, the judge imposed the following conditions prior to Lavoie’s release: She will be under house arrest and must reside with her mother, wear a GPS monitoring device, remain drug and alcohol free, report to the probation department on a regular basis, attend mental health and alcohol counseling sessions, no contact with the alleged victim or witnesses associated with the case, and stay away from Holyoke School System properties.
Lavoie has since resigned from her teaching post and must return to court on April 24.
Lavoie faces additional charges
Goodhines, who spoke by phone on Wednesday afternoon, said any additional evidence will be presented to a grand jury. The initial charge of enticement of a minor under 16 carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison.
“It’s my expectation that we will be seeking, from the grad jury, charges for statutory rape,” said Goodhines. He said his office will seek the additional charges through the grand jury and not through Holyoke District Court.
The exact number of statutory rape charges have not been determined until all witnesses have been interviewed and evidence reviewed. He said in Massachusetts that a felony rape conviction can carry up to a life sentence.
He also cited a sex offender law passed in October 2008 by the Commonwealth that carries a mandatory-minimum sentence of ten years in prison for any person convicted of a crime under the statue. A mandated reporter includes teachers, clergy, coaches, and doctors.