A Los Gatos woman accused of having sex with a teenage boy last summer was sentenced Tuesday morning to six months in Santa Clara County Jail and three years or formal probation after being found guilty by a jury earlier this month of the misdemeanor offense of annoying or molesting a child.
Sara Cole, 47, will also have to register for life as a sex offender.
Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Jerome Brock retained jurisdiction over the case, which means if Cole violates probation, he will handle the matter.
If Cole violates probation, she could be sent back to county jail to serve additional time, said Santa Clara County Deputy District Attorney Timothy Moore, who prosecuted the case.
Annoying or molesting a child can involve kissing, touching, tickling or playfully flirting with a minor, which is against the law and considered a sex crime. In this case, Cole was found guilty of those acts toward the boy.
The jury found that a normal person would have been annoyed or offended by the conduct and that the behavior was motivated by an unnatural or abnormal sexual interest in the minor. It's not a defense that the boy may have consented to the inappropriate relationship, according to the law.
The sentencing took place in Judge Brock's Dept. 35 of the San Jose Hall of Justice.
Cole will begin serving her jail term in January after Brock gave her a stay on the time to allow her to spend the holidays with her family, Moore said. She has four children.
Cole's attorney, Michael Armstrong, didn't return several phone calls and emails seeking comment.
The jury declared a mistrial on a third felony count of unlawful sex with a minor. Moore said in the interest of justice, he will reserve his right to refile that charge at a later time within the statue of limitation, but at this time he will not retry Cole on that offense.
Asked if he was satisfied with the sentencing imposed on Cole, Moore said he argued that she should receive the maximum term of one year in county jail beginning immediately.
However, Judge Brock, disagreed, and Moore said, "I have a lot of respect for Judge Brock, and that's what he decided."
Last summer, the , acting on concerns by the victim’s parents, launched a two-month investigation. In September, officers served a search warrant at Cole’s home and seized equipment and phones, police sources say.
On Sept. 30, 2010, Cole turned herself in to police after a warrant had been issued for her arrest. The mother of four was accused of having an affair with a local teenage boy over the course of several months.
She was released on a $30,000 bail on Oct. 1, 2010, and arraigned on Oct. 13, 2010.
Moore has said the complaint filed against Cole alleged three separate violations occurring between May 1 and July 15, 2010.
In 2007, Cole was embraced by Los Gatos after nearly being killed by a drunken driver. At the time, Cole was considered a local hero and a living warning about the dangers of drunken drivers.
During the four-day trial earlier this month, the the boy himself and say that Cole was guilty of having sexual intercourse with the young man, who's almost 18 now.
The boy, who was 16 at the time of the allegations, testified that Cole had sex with him 30-40 times, Moore said.
Moore showed the jury 5,415 texts and 863 phone calls between Cole and the boy that took place between January and July of 2010. Many of the sexually explicit texts were used as evidence that Cole had intercourse with the boy.
Armstrong defended his client by saying Cole was just trying to help the boy, who was using drugs and doing poorly in school. Cole testified the boy assaulted her three times.