BURLEY • Tara Bagley, former vice principal at Burley High School, was led out of the courtroom Tuesday to serve two consecutive four- to 13-year prison terms for sexually abusing two girls at the school.
Balled up tissues used to dry her tears piled up on the table in front of her as victim statements were read, experts testified and lawyers argued for nearly two hours during the hearing.
Under a plea agreement, Bagley pleaded guilty to two counts of sexual abuse committed by lewd or lascivious acts on a minor child 16 to 17 years old. Five charges of sexual battery of a minor child 16 to 17 years old will be dismissed.
Bagley said that six months ago, she was a successful vice principal, church leader, wife and mother of three.
“The only part that is true now is I’m still a mother,” said Bagley, 41.
She characterized her acts as “consensual, inappropriate relationships” and said she takes responsibility for the harm she caused to the victims, school and to the community.
“First, I want to apologize to the victims and their families. I’m so sorry for what happened — especially because I was in a position of trust and responsibility for these girls.”
Bagley said she “embarrassed and brought a bad name to the teaching profession.”
Defense attorney Robert Nielsen said her actions were due to depression that was not properly medicated.
Linda Steele, a Utah counselor, said Bagley’s depression prevented her from making good decisions.
“The depression swallowed me up,” Bagley said.
Many people are depressed, but they do not go out and molest children, said Al Barrus, prosecutor for Cassia County.
District Judge Michael Crabtree compared the impact of the case to the tornado that tore through Oklahoma earlier this year.
Catastrophes are everywhere, Crabtree said. Although no weapons or specific violent acts were involved, it is difficult to imagine a more invasive or traumatic event suffered by a child than sexual molestation, the judge said.
“The victims were students at your school under your supervision. Their perception of you was of a mentor, supervisor and as a role model,” he told the defendant.
Bagley was also sentenced to pay a civil penalty of $5,000 to each victim along with court costs and the cost for evaluations.
The prosecution has 30 days to file a motion for restitution to the victims.