The fall jury session of Dade County Superior Court is winding down in the usual judicial anticlimax as both high-profile defendants negotiated pleas bargains rather than stand trial.
Amanda Pardue, the Dade substitute teacher arrested last year for improper internet contact with multiple young boys, was sentenced to a $5000 fine and 10 years to be served almost entirely on probation, though she will report for a 90-day "detention center program" on June 1. She had entered guilty pleas on three counts of obscene internet contact with a child which were merged with three counts of computer pornography. She was assigned concurrent sentences on those, with several more counts of electronically furnishing obscene material to minors dismissed as part of the plea bargain.
The mother of one of the minors involved in the case, who did not wish to be named here, expressed frustration at the light sentence. "If she had gone to trial, all the dirt would have come out," she said. She was angry that Ms. Pardue is free until June and said that the delayed detention had been assigned for the defendant's convenience. And she was especially concerned that Ms. Pardue might be able to attend sports events at the school. "Her children play sports with my child," she said.
"That is the law," confirmed Dr. Jan Harris, superintendent of schools. "The law says that a parent can attend school functions, even if a parent is declared a sex offender, with his or her child."
But the rules are pretty strict on that, she said: "That doesn't mean they can walk around the schools and be a chaperone or anything like that," said the super. "They have to be with their child."
In this case, said Dr. Harris, she had spoken with Ms. Pardue and her husband and would soon meet with them in person about coming to some arrangement to quiet parents' fears. "I'm hoping to work out a plan," she said.
In addition to the detention program, fine and probation time, Ms. Pardue is under court orders to have no contact with any of the minors she was accused of soliciting, to complete a sex offender outpatient therapy program and not to use Snapchat or any other social media that will automatically erase messages or photographs. Such social media as she does use will be subject to probation office supervision.
As for the other felony case before the court this fall: Gustavo Pagan Rodriguez, whose tractor-trailer truck crossed the I-59 median last November, killing the driver of another big rig traveling in the opposite direction, took a guilty plea to second-degree homicide by vehicle and got 12 months for that. He was also sentenced to another year each for counts of failure to maintain lane, improperly driving on a divided highway and driving the wrong way on the highway, all to be served consecutively, for a total of 48 months.
However, all the driver's time was to be served on probation except for one year, and he was also to be given credit for time served since his arrest. Thus since Rodriguez has been detained in the Dade jail since his arrest the week before last Thanksgiving--almost a year by now--it does not seem that he will be behind bars much longer, though the sentence specifies there is "no good time to be given." A representative of the prosecutor's office explained that that meant that what remains of his sentence is not to be shortened for good behavior.
Rodriguez was originally charged with DUI but that was thrown out earlier this year when his toxin screen came back clean for both alcohol and drugs.