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California Teacher Sentenced to Prison For Sex With Student

The Associated Press, September 19, 2002

LAS VEGAS, Nevada (AP) - A judge Thursday sternly lectured a former California teacher who kidnapped a 15-year-old student and had sex with him in a Las Vegas hotel, but gave her a sentence that allows her to be released from Nevada custody next month.

"Being a teacher is a sacred trust. How dare you? How dare you?" Judge Joseph T. Bonaventure yelled, pointing his finger at Tanya Hadden, 33.

He sentenced Hadden to five to 121/2 years in prison for second-degree kidnapping, sexual conduct between teacher and student and statutory sexual seduction. But he suspended all but six months of the sentence, meaning that with time served she faces only 40 more days in Nevada.

Hadden still faces related charges in California, and likely will be extradited within weeks, prosecutor Douglas Herndon said. Those charges carry up to nine years in prison.

Hadden and Richard Pena disappeared April 29 from San Bernardino's Cajon High School. They were found at a Las Vegas Strip hotel-casino four days later.

The former teacher broke into tears at Thursday's hearing as the boy's mother, Ida Pena, said Hadden ruined her son's life and that the family "went through hell" while he was missing. "You violated him and you violated us," she said, glaring at Hadden.

Hadden's lawyer, Jordan S. Savage, said her client was lonely after a recent separation from her husband.

"I was acting like a 15-year-old girlfriend," Hadden told the judge Thursday. "I wasn't acting like an adult."

Hadden agreed that she needed therapy and apologized to Pena's mother, saying, "I want peace to return to your family."

Hadden could have been sentenced to 26 years in prison, but Bonaventure told her, "You at least deserve a chance to rebuild your life." He ordered her to be placed on strict sex offender probation and lifetime supervision.

Copyright 2002 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.