Former Curtis High School biology teacher Michael E. Allen on Tuesday finally seemed to realize the enormity of his actions.
Gone were the lies to his wife and employers. Gone was the audacity that led him to defy court orders. Gone was the “you only live once” attitude that prompted his sexual relationship with a 17-year-old girl at his school.
In their place were tears and regret and, finally, an admission of what seemed painfully obvious.
“I was selfish,” the 33-year-old Allen said before being sentenced to one year, eight months in prison, for carrying on the relationship. “What I did was inappropriate and wrong.”
Be the first to know.
No one covers what is happening in our community better than we do. And with a digital subscription, you'll never miss a local story.
He got no argument from Judge Frank Cuthbertson.
“You hurt a lot of people,” the Pierce County Superior Court judge said before handing down the high-end sentence.
“You hurt your children. You obviously hurt your wife and her family, and you did great harm to the victim in this case. Her life was completely disrupted. Her family was completely disrupted.”
Allen pleaded guilty earlier this year to two counts of first-degree sexual misconduct with a minor and two counts of violating a no-contact order.
A relationship fueled by text messages and phone calls – thousands of each – evolved into sexual intercourse and other sex acts late last year and earlier this year, court and school district records show.
Allen was arrested in February and released on bail.
He was back in jail the next month, accused of meeting with the girl, communicating with one of her friends through Twitter and sending her mother a letter, all in defiance of a court order that forbid him from contacting the teen.
Allen resigned in March and surrendered his teaching certificate.
On Tuesday, he learned not only that he will be spending time in prison but that he also will have to undergo a psycho-sexual evaluation once he is released, undergo any treatment recommended and register as a sex offender.
What seemed to hurt him most, though, was hearing the words of his wife, who sent a letter to Cuthbertson describing how Allen’s actions had torn apart their family.
Read into the record by deputy prosecutor Sabrina Ahrens, the letter spoke in gut-wrenching terms of the family’s humiliation, betrayal and uncertain future because of Allen’s actions.
The words brought Allen to tears, especially the sections where his wife, who is seeking a divorce, wrote about their two young children, who are confused about their father’s absence from the home and missing him.
“We used to be a happy family,” the letter stated.
Defense attorney Donald Winskill spoke next.
Winskill said prison would be only a small price for his client to pay for what the attorney called “clearly inappropriate behavior.” Allen has lost his family, friends and livelihood as well, Winskill said.
“He has, in essence, become an outcast,” the attorney said. “That’s the burden he has to bear.”
Cuthbertson then gave Allen a chance to speak.
The defendant apologized to his victim and to his family.
“I’ve made some horrible decisions, your honor, and I’m ashamed of them,” Allen said. “There’s no excuses for my actions. That time period, I don’t know who I was.”
Cuthbertson, as is customary, went last.
“You’re right about one thing,” the judge told Allen. “It was selfish.”
Cuthbertson then handed Allen over to corrections officers who herded him back to jail to await the van that would take him to prison.