FORT WORTH — Standing in a Tarrant County court, after 14 months of hearings and investigations, Jennifer Riojas broke down in tears.
The former Fort Worth science teacher eventually composed herself and pleaded guilty to having an improper relationship between an educator and a student. She accepted six years' deferred adjudication and probation, and forfeits her teaching certificate in Texas.
"All issues regarding your guilt or innocence are being decided right now," Judge Ruben Gonzalez reminded her. "You will not be able to withdraw them at a later time. Do you understand that?"
Riojas said she understood.
Riojas will not have to register as a sex offender, because prosecutors dropped three charges of "
"sexual assault of a child." "Improper relationship between an educator and student" is not a registrable offense.
Prosecutors got the case in the fall of 2010 when a sophomore at Fort Worth's Carter Riverside High School learned Riojas was pregnant, and rumors spread the 16-year-old was the father of the child. The Fort Worth Independent School District investigated, and Riojas resigned before police took over the case.
The teenager told police he had sex with his teacher three times.
Court documents say one meeting took place in December 2009 at a Fort Worth hospital, where the teen was recovering from a school athletics injury. He told police there were two more encounters at hotels near Northeast Mall.
The plea means Riojas confessed to just one incident as part of the plea deal. Her attorney said prosecutors could have pursued the original charges of sexual assault of a child, but the victim's family approved the plea for the lesser charge.
"I am not going to say it is a victimless crime, but I am going to say the victim didn't suffer any consequences of this activity," defense attorney Jim Shaw told News 8.
Shaw said Riojas will transfer her probation to another county, where she is raising her child. She promised to never teach again.
Shaw says simple math proves the child does not belong to the teenager. Riojas gave birth in January 2010. The last reported sexual encounter between the student and teacher was January 2009.