BROOKSVILLE — Cynthia Lynn Herr, a former Hernando County teacher accused last year of having sexual activity with a 16-year-old boy, received a six-year prison sentence Thursday in exchange for a guilty plea. Once she is released, she must serve nine years of sexual offender probation.
Standing beside her attorney, Mike Mastrogiovanni, a tearful Herr, 36, appeared before Hernando Circuit Judge Daniel B. Merritt Jr., who also required that she surrender her state teaching certificate.
According to Assistant State Attorney Erin Daly, who prosecuted the case, the family of the victim approved of the deal. Had Herr been convicted on all of the charges, she could have faced up to 45 years in prison.
Daly said the victim was an acquaintance of Herr's daughter and was not a student at J.D. Floyd K-8 School in Spring Hill, where Herr was a prekindergarten exceptional student education teacher.
Herr was first arrested Sept. 23 in Hernando County on charges of unlawful sexual activity with a minor. She was arrested again at her Citrus County home the next day on a similar charge in that county. Last month, the cases were combined, with approval from Citrus County Circuit Judge Ric Howard.
Authorities investigating the case said Citrus County deputies first heard allegations in early September that Herr was having inappropriate contact with the teen. Deputies contacted the victim, who, after initially denying any sexual activity, allowed authorities to view his text messages and Facebook account. Deputies observed numerous messages of a sexual nature, several seemingly referencing sexual activity between the pair.
In another interview with authorities, the teen admitted that the two engaged in at least two different sexual acts at a Weeki Wachee hotel on Aug. 24. He also told investigators of other intimate encounters in Herr's van in Pasco and Marion counties.
According to an arrest report, Herr told investigators she knew that what she did was wrong and that she probably would lose her family and job and go to jail. She also said she would be in trouble if authorities were to access her phone and Facebook account.
Herr, who resigned her teaching position on Sept. 25, had no prior arrests in either Hernando or Citrus, records show.
Contact Logan Neill at [email protected] or (352) 848-1435.