Janice Morse reports
Former Mason High School teacher Stacy Schuler is asking a judge to grant early release from her four-year prison term for having sex with five male students – and she made a public statement for the first time.“I would like to begin by saying how ashamed I am of my actions and behaviors that led to my incarceration,” Schuler wrote in a five-page letter to Judge Robert Peeler.
He’s the Warren County judge who convicted Schuler of 19 charges in October: 16 felony counts of sexual battery plus three misdemeanor counts of providing alcohol to minors. The incidents happened in the fall of 2010 at her Springboro home.
After being formally accused of the offenses, Schuler resigned in February 2011, ending a 10-year career with Mason schools. She had taught physical education and health, and was an athletic trainer.
“The situations I allowed myself to become involved with are inexcusable and could have been prevented if I had only been willing to ask for help,” she wrote, describing a downward spiral of depression, sleep deprivation and self-medication that clouded her judgment. “I acknowledge that through my wrong mindedness I have brought hurt and pain to numerous individuals who trusted me and had faith in me.”
Schuler, 34, also told Peeler that she has “taken every opportunity to heal and work on becoming a healthier individual as well as helping the other women” at the state prison where she is housed, the Ohio Reformatory for Women in Mansfield. She teaches yoga and general education classes for her fellow prisoners, is undergoing mental health treatment for bipolar disorder and participates in a group for sex offenders.
Schuler and 62 other people wrote letters that Schuler’s attorney, Charles H. Rittgers, filed in support of her motion for judicial release Thursday. “The letters go on and on…even while incarcerated, Stacy continues to help others,” Rittgers wrote.
“It is not (her) intention to in any way minimize, excuse or deny the inappropriate actions which ultimately placed her in the position she now occupies,” Rittgers wrote. Rather, he said, the intent is to demonstrate that “further imposition of (her) prison term is not required to adequately punish (her) or protect the public.”
But Warren County Prosecutor David Fornshell said he fight to keep Schuler locked up.
“She has only been in prison since the end of October,” he said. “In my opinion, that is not sufficient time given the seriousness of the offenses for which she was convicted.”
Schuler was eligible for early release a month ago, after she finished serving six months in prison.
Fornshell said he hasn’t seen people in other jurisdictions or in Warren County be freed so quickly after such offenses. “It just doesn’t happen,” he said, “and it shouldn’t happen in this case.”
A hearing on Schuler’s motion is set for July 12.
Adam Kiefaber contributed to this story.