Cy-Springs teacher who had sex with 15-year-old student was off her medication
A teacher at Cypress Springs High School was suffering from depression and had stopped taking her medication when she had sex and smoked marijuana with a 15-year-old student last year, her friends and family told a judge during a Tuesday sentencing hearing.
Michelle Schiffer, 24, appeared in a Houston courtroom for a sentencing hearing facing the possibility of 20 years in prison after pleading guilty in May to one charge of improper relationship with a student.
After hearing from the victim’s mother and Schiffer’s friends and family - who packed one side of the courtroom - state District Judge Robert Johnson postponed the hearing so he would have more time to consider the teacher’s sentence.
It was an unusual step by Johnson, a first term judge who was elected in 2016. Harris County judges routinely announce their decisions at the conclusion of a sentencing hearing because they have had months to review the evidence and pre-sentence investigation files.
On Tuesday, Schiffer’s defense team and family asked the judge to consider the fact that she will never teach again and sentence her to deferred adjudication probation, which means if she successfully completes it, she would not have a conviction on her record.
“She has a Scarlet letter that’s going to last the rest of her life,” defense attorney Grant Scheiner said. “And that is part of the punishment.”
He noted that Schiffer remains engaged to a U.S. Marine who is on active duty out of the country and is planning on getting married in November.
Prosecutor Keaton Forcht asked the judge to consider the full range of punishment, from probation all the way to 20 years in prison.
“Today is about (the victim). Michelle Schiffer had sex with a child.” Forcht told the judge, reminding him of evidence that Schiffer took photographs of her exposed breasts and sent the photos to other students along with her phone number. “This isn’t a heat of the moment thing. This is over a series of months with different students.”
During her testimony, the mother of the student Schiffer had sex with down in tears.
“I don’t think any mother should have to go through this,” she said sobbing. “You trust those people. You put your trust in those people.”
She also wiped tears from her eyes as Schiffer’s friends and family defended the woman facing prison time and testified that she suffers from depression and was not taking her medication.
“She’s horrified about what she did to that poor young man. I think she’s remorseful,” said Schiffer’s mother, Mary Schiffer. “She knows what she did was wrong. She made a series of bad choices to bring her to that place. Since then, she has really become consistent with (her therapy and medication.)
She said her daughter is planning to marry her fiancé, a U.S. Marine, in November.
“He is disappointed, of course, and upset by her actions, but he loves her and is standing by her,” Mary Schiffer said.
Michelle Schiffer did not testify Tuesday and communicated her remorse in a two-page letter to the judge as part of the pre-sentence investigation.
Brian Rogers covers Houston crime and courts. You can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter at @brianjrogers.