Former Livingston High teacher sentenced for felony sex crimes

mnorth@mercedsunstar.comMarch 25, 2013 

A former Livingston High School teacher accused of having a sexual relationship with one of her students pleaded no contest Monday morning to nine felony counts of unlawful sex with a minor.

Melody Carter-McCabe, 28, is facing five years of felony probation and five months of jail time with credit for 21 days of time served. However, she won't have to register as a sex offender unless she reoffends or displays behavior that concerns the court.

Carter-McCabe is also barred from entering the city of Livingston during her probation except to visit her son. She's been ordered not to have any contact with the boy she's accused of having sex with.

Merced County Superior Court Judge Ronald Hansen handed down the sentence as an impassive Carter-McCabe watched from the defendant's table.

Carter-McCabe declined to comment to the Sun-Star.

Her attorney, Jeffrey Tenenbaum, said the case was tough on all parties involved.

"This was a very difficult situation for everybody involved, especially for my client, and she's working to put her life back together," Tenenbaum said outside of the courtroom.

Carter-McCabe probably won't be permitted to instruct younger students again, but it's possible that she could teach at a college level, Tenenbaum noted.

Deputy District Attorney Monika Saini said when parents send their children to school, they should be able to trust the teachers to keep them safe. When there's a breach of that trust, consequences will follow.

"Carter-McCabe is being held accountable for what she did," Saini said after Monday's sentencing. "This type of behavior won't be tolerated."

The Sheriff's Department launched an investigation in March of last year after rumors began circulating at the school and staff notified law enforcement.

When the relationship started, Carter-McCabe was 25 years old, according to a sheriff's report. The relationship allegedly began in September 2010 and lasted until August 2011.

Carter-McCabe was the boy's mentor in Future Farmers of America, according to the report. Prosecutors claimed the friendship between the suspect and the boy eventually became sexual.

The boy, who was 15 years old at the time, frequented the suspect's home and claimed they had sex more than 50 times, according to the report.

Evidence against Carter-McCabe included photographs and various correspondences between the teacher and victim, the prosecution claimed.

Reporter Mike North can be reached at (209) 385-2453 or mnorth@mercedsunstar.com.