DOWNTOWN – A former Burbank middle school teacher was sentenced Friday to two years in state prison after turning herself in to authorities for having sex with a 14-year-old student.
Amy Beck, a 33-year-old former English and social science teacher at Jordan Middle School, pleaded no contest March 25 to charges of unlawful sex with a minor. A no-contest plea is not an admission of guilt, but is treated as such for sentencing purposes.
Los Angeles County Superior Court judge Patrick Hegarty also ordered Beck to register as a sex offender for the charges that included one count each of unlawful sexual intercourse and committing a lewd act on a child. Beck will likely serve about 10 months in prison because of time served, said her attorney, Michael Williamson.
"She was prepared for the sentence. It's what she sought out frankly at the time she brought this to light with the Police Department," Williamson said outside the courthouse.
Beck wore an orange jumpsuit with her hands bound behind her back and her head down as she heard the sentence.
"Nobody wants to go to prison, but the fact is, the day she chose to self-report, she knew she would go to prison and she did it anyway," Williamson said.
Beck was originally charged with four counts of unlawful sex with a minor and one count of oral copulation with a minor, and faced up to seven years in prison. All but one of the charges were dropped as part of the plea deal, prosecutors said. A charge was added that required her to register as a sex offender.
Deputy Dist. Atty. Debra Archuleta declined to speak with news media outside the Burbank courthouse.
Beck, who has remained in custody since March 8, turned herself in to Burbank Police headquarters for allegedly having sex with the boy during a six-month period that ended in September, authorities said. She taught the boy for a brief period, but was not his teacher at the time of their sexual relationship, which consisted of "fleeting moments," her lawyer said.
Burbank Police Sgt. Robert Quesada said the department was unaware of the crime until the mother of three confessed. Beck declined to post $175,000 bail throughout the ordeal, keeping her out of reach of the media.
What remains to be answered is why she risked losing her freedom, her career as a model teacher and her marriage, Williamson said.
The sexual tryst was a dramatic jolt to students, parents and teachers at Jordan Middle School and throughout the district. Administrators said some of their teachers are only now recovering from the emotional drain.
Beck has maintained contact with her Los Angeles police officer husband, her children and their families — and there are no plans for divorce, Williamson said. Her children attended Roosevelt Elementary School, but remain with family and are not attending class in Burbank, he added.
Representatives from parent-teacher associations at Roosevelt and Jordan declined to comment.
Described by school officials as a "well respected and loved" teacher who served on the faculty for about 10 years, Beck was one of 19 educators honored by the Burbank Kiwanis in 2008 for outstanding work. In her March 5 resignation letter, described as a two- or three-sentence note, she informed administrators of her immediate resignation.
"Her career as a model teacher or teacher of any type is gone. Her life living the American dream — the middle-class wife married to a police officer — has come to an end. Her life is irreparably changed," Williamson said. "So I think in addition to the jail sentence, justice takes all kinds of forms. And she's going to be living with the other forms for quite a while."