Parents outraged over light sentence for Louisiana substitute teacher who had sex with students
Parents are outraged after a substitute teacher charged with having sex with their children gets a plea deal. The woman won't serve jail time or register as a sex offender. That means there's legally nothing to keep her from teaching again.
“They were cheated,” said the mother of a Terrebonne student.
“Justice wasn’t served. It just wasn’t,” agreed another mother.
These women are the mothers of two students who say they had sex with their Terrebonne Parish substitute teacher. She was 30; they were 16 and 15.
“We trust these people with our kids eight hours a day, and we want them, we hope that as a teacher that they treat them like their own,” one mother told FOX 8.
The charges date back to 2016. Heidi Marie Domangue was booked with indecent behavior with a juvenile under 13 and three counts of carnal knowledge of a juvenile. The two mothers we spoke to say they made it clear to the district attorney that they wanted to pursue this case. They wanted Domangue, also known as Heidi Verret, to serve jail time, to register as a sex offender and to be prohibited from teaching.
“We didn’t want her around any more kids. And that’s at school, at home. I feel she’s a predator,” one mom said.
Yet on March 22, both women received a letter from the D.A.’s office outlining details of a plea deal an assistant district attorney struck with Domangue.
The mothers were shocked.
“They’re letting her off too easy,” one mom said.
As part of the plea deal, Domangue admitted to having sex with two children and sending lewd texts to a child under 13.
She was charged with two counts of carnal knowledge of a juvenile, instead of three. What’s more, those charges were knocked down to misdemeanors. The indecent behavior with a juvenile under 13 charge was changed to “attempted contribution to the delinquency of a minor."
Domangue won’t be able to teach during her two-year probation period, but she won’t have to register as a sex offender or serve any time, either.
“Would I have liked to have gotten a felony conviction and put her in jail? Yes I would. But with the evidentiary issues we had, I just felt like keeping her out, this was the best mechanism,” Terrebonne Parish District Attorney Joe Waitz said.
Waitz says he and the prosecutor handling the case were concerned they wouldn’t be able to guarantee a conviction. He says the misdemeanors will ensure she won’t teach again.
“Our school systems across the state have extensive background checks when anyone applies, and these convictions will be placed in her personnel file. Once she applies anywhere, they will appear in her personnel file and they will say, ‘Hey, we don’t want this person, she has sex offenses,’” explained Waitz.
Yet, for the two mothers we spoke to, it’s not enough.
“Harm children and get away with it. It’s not right,” said one mother.
“They failed these kids,” said the other.
District Attorney Waitz says he spoke with the Terrebonne Parish schools superintendent to make sure Domangue wouldn’t get her job back.
The mothers we talked to say they want the law changed to require prosecutors to notify parents of child victims they’re striking a plea deal and to allow them to weigh in.
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