A Carbon County woman was sentenced to a county prison term Tuesday afternoon for having a sexual relationship with a boy five years younger than her.
Elizabeth G. Vanhorn, 23, of Parryville, was sentenced by President Judge Roger N. Nanovic II to serve six to 23 months in prison on a charge of of statutory sexual assault, followed by one year probation, and the same term for a charge of unlawful contact with a minor. The terms run concurrently.
Vanhorn was convicted by a jury on June 5 of the two counts. She was found not guilty of indecent assault on a person less than 16 years of age.
Vanhorn was arrested by Jim Thorpe police for having a sexual relationship with a boy over a 14 month period when she was 19 and he was 14. The county office of Children and Youth notified borough police of the relationship. Police started an investigation in August 2010.
Yesterday, Nanovic rejected the plea of defense attorney Joseph V. Sebelin for house arrest or a probation sentence. He also discounted Vanhorn's claim that she didn't realize that the relationship was not legal.
Nanovic said her actions indicated otherwise. He said the fact she spoke with the boy's parents, seeking their approval, indicated she knew it was not right.
He also noted that the boy was a ninth grade student and she was a high school graduate with the sexual relationship began.
"The ages and grades are a dramatic difference," Nanovic said.
During the proceeding Vanhorn asked for probation or house arrest so she could care for her one and a half year old daughter. She got pregnant by the boy.
She also told the court, "I didn't realize the seriousness of the crime because his parents let me in the relationship. I realize I was wrong and I'm sorry for it."
Nanovic noted that often in criminal cases there are persons who suffered by the acts of those committing the crimes. He said in this case the innocent young girl will suffer because her mother will be in jail.
Sebelin argued that the case was unusual because the age difference between the two was just over the four year limit provided by state law.
However, Assistant District Attorney James M. Lavelle, who prosecuted the case, said that it was not just over the legal four year limit. He said, "It was actually five years and 81 days difference at the time."
The boy, now 18, said he lost four years of his life due to the relationship. He claimed on several occasions he tried to break off the relationship but that Vanhorn would tell him she was pregnant. He also denied Vanhorn's claim that he has not seen his daughter for 10 months despite a visitation order in place. He said he went to Vanhorn's home on numerous occasions to pick up the child but she was never there. He said he finally gave up trying.
Vanhorn, Nanovic said, also falls under the new provisions of a revised Megan's Law the state legislature passed.
She will have to registered as a sexual offender for the next 25 years. The old provision was for 10 years.
Nanovic also ordered her to supply a DNA sample and pay the $250 fee, get a mental health evaluation and follow any recommendation for treatment, submit to a sexual offenders evaluation, pay court costs, and a $50 per month supervision fee while on parole and probation.
She will begin the jail term at 5 p.m. on Friday. Nanovic granted her work release privileges.