A former Southeast Texas teacher was sentenced Monday to 16 years in prison for having an inappropriate relationship with a student and sexual assault of a child.
Linda Leann Wallace, 53, was charged after prosecutors say she had a relationship with a student while she was a teacher at Legacy Christian Academy in Beaumont. She entered a guilty plea in July.
It was standing-room only in the courtroom as Wallace's daughter testified during the sentencing phase saying, "My mom is not a predator!"
A former nurse of the school who has been a Friend of the Wallace family for 20 years testified in Wallace's defense as well.
Wallace took the stand as the last witness for the defense.
"I've had remorse for many years. I'm terribly sorry. I cry myself to sleep at night for her innocence," said Wallace.
"We knew it was wrong. The only reason it evolved to that point was because she was struggling with her family. I wanted so hard to be there for the student and encourage her. I should have stood my ground. I'm sincerely sorry," said Wallace.
In her victim impact statement, the victim told Wallace "I don't wish anything bad on you. I just wanted to do the right thing. I am deeply saddened by what took place. I was seeking a motherly figure. I trusted you so much. I was robbed spiritually, emotionally, physically, and mentally. I was afraid of that happening to someone else. The enemy had silenced me for a good portion of my life. But, today I shed light. I'm not going to be silent anymore. I'm not angry with you. This is not the end for you. I completely forgive you. But, there must be consequences."
Prosecutors say the relationship was ongoing and that it began in 2006 and lasted until the female student went to college. Prosecutors say it began when the student was 13 years old.
A spokesperson for the school told 12News Wallace, who was a music teacher, resigned in 2012 without mentioning that she had been charged. The spokesperson said the school was notified of a criminal investigation about two months after Wallace's resignation and that the school immediately notified parents.
The prosecution maintains the student's family is "severely traumatized" by the relationship because Wallace was also a family friend.
Wallace's attorney, Paul Fukuda, told 12News "It's a tragedy for both families. Ms. Wallace is taking full responsibility."
Wallace faced from 2 to 20 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.