FORKS — A new trial date has been set while the clock ticks on plea deal talks for a former Forks Middle School paraeducator charged with five counts of child rape and giving the alleged victim Xanax pills, an anti-anxiety drug.
The plea agreement for Tammy Ann Leask, 39, who allegedly admitted she sexually assaulted the 13-year-old boy and provided him with Xanax, expires Thursday, Matthew Roberson, Clallam County deputy prosecuting attorney, said last Wednesday at a hearing.
Superior Court Judge Brent Basden rescheduled the March 1 trial to April 12 and set a status hearing for March 12.
Criminal jury trials have been suspended through March 29 due to COVID-19.
Roberson said last week that Leask does not have a criminal history.
“The crimes she is charged with would require prison time under the Sentencing Reform Act,” he said.
Port Angeles lawyer Stan Myers, representing the lifelong Forks resident, said the current offer is for 17½ years, the low end of the standard sentence range if she pleads guilty to three counts of second-degree child rape, and two rape charges and a drug distribution charge would be dropped.
“So far, my client has not agreed to this offer,” Myers said Monday.
The offer remains under consideration, but he also is preparing for trial, he said.
“To me, it just seems excessive.
“If the allegations are proven at trial, it gives the court the ability to sentence above the standard sentence range of [24 years].”
Roberson said he was prohibited from discussing the details of his plea offer.
He said he rejected a counter-offer from Myers.
Each rape charge, which alleges Leask had sexual intercourse with the boy, carries a maximum sentence of life in prison.
Each carries special allegations that Leask violated her position of trust and engaged in an ongoing pattern of abuse.
Victims of second-degree child rape are 12-14 years old. Victims of first-degree child rape are younger than 12.
The charge of distribution of a controlled substance to a minor, a Class B felony, has a maximum 10-year sentence.
In the probable cause statement, the boy said he and Leask had sex four times in Leask’s classroom and once at a campground. He said she pressured him into having sex and gave him two Xanax pills, one of which he took.
He disclosed the alleged sexual relationship to a school investigator Aug. 24.
Myers and Roberson waived a 3.5 hearing scheduled for Wednesday to determine the admissibility of statements Leask made to sheriff’s Detectives Brandon Stoppani and Stacy Sampson after Leask’s Aug. 27 arrest at Forks High School.
Myers said at the hearing Wednesday that Leask had been properly informed of her Miranda rights against self-incrimination when she spoke to the detectives and gave her statements voluntarily. He retained the right to argue the statements’ merits at trial and to raise objections to them.
In the interview with the detectives, excerpts of which are in the probable cause statement, Leask said the boy was suicidal and that she felt sorry for him.
“It just got out of control, she said.
“I couldn’t stop it.”
She said the assaults occurred over six weeks.
Leask said “maybe” she gave him Xanax.
“This never should have happened,” she said.
A day before Leask was arrested, Leask and the boy spoke in a phone conversation that was recorded under a court order issued by Barnhart.
“Tell them nothing happened,” Leask told the boy, according to the probable cause statement, written by Stoppani.
She told the boy she was losing her job and said she was not blaming him “for anything,” according to the statement.
“This is all my fault. It is 100 percent on me,” she said.
Senior Staff Writer Paul Gottlieb can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 55650, or at [email protected].