from www.timesnews.net – A former Sullivan East High School teacher has pleaded guilty to seven counts of especially aggravated sexual exploitation of a minor in exchange for 8 years behind bars.
Sherri Lynn Baffa, 37, entered an Alford, or best-interest, plea of guilty to the charges Monday in front of Sullivan County Circuit Court Judge Jerry Beck. The plea agreement required Baffa to agree to serve 100 percent of an 8-year prison term and pay a $2,000 fine.
Baffa must also undergo a sexual offender evaluation and will be placed on the Tennessee Sexual Offender Registry for a minimum of 10 years. After that, she may petition to be removed from the registry. She must also pay a $3,000 sexual offender surcharge.
An Alford plea is a guilty plea in which the defendant maintains innocence and does not admit to alleged acts, but agrees that sufficient evidence exists for a judge or jury to find the defendant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
According to Baffa’s court record, the charges stemmed from the alleged discovery by Baffa’s former husband of a camera containing explicit photographs of Baffa and the alleged victim nude and/or engaged in sex. Baffa’s ex-husband reported the discovery to the Sullivan County Sheriff’s Office on May 2 2011, advising the photos were dated Feb. 16, 2007. At that time, the alleged victim was 16 years of age.
According to a separate court record, Baffa’s ex-husband, Michael Sean Campbell, 38, 251 Hunter Hills Circle, No. 3, Bristol, Tenn., also now faces seven counts of especially aggravated sexual exploitation of a minor.
Sullivan County Assistant District Attorney Julie Canter said Friday she couldn’t, “get into the specific facts,” of Campbell’s case, but advised, “further investigation revealed his involvement and led to his charges.”
Campbell’s indictments allege he did, “promote, employ, use, assist, transport, or permit a minor to participate in the performance of, or in the production of, acts or material which includes the minor engaging in sexual activity,” a Class B felony.
A Sullivan County grand jury indicted Campbell on the charges on May 8. The sealed indictments became public record following Campbell’s Aug. 22 arrest. He was released the same day after posting a $50,000 bond. Campbell is scheduled for a Sept. 7 court appearance.
Baffa had previously turned herself in after a Sullivan County grand jury indicted her on Aug. 30, 2011. At that time, the Web site for Sullivan East listed Baffa as a teacher of algebra and geometry.
Following her arrest, school officials said Baffa was initially placed on administrative leave with pay, with her status later changed to without pay. On Monday, Larry Hall, with the Sullivan County Department of Education, said Baffa resigned on Feb. 25.