A former teacher with the Muenster Independent School District who was accused of having sexual relations with her students has pleaded guilty, her attorney said Wednesday.
Lynn Anne Burge entered the plea Nov. 27 to two counts of improper relationship between a teacher and student, both second-degree felonies, attorney Rick Hagen of Denton-based law firm Jackson and Hagen said.
Those charges carry a range of two to 20 years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine, he said. Under the plea agreement, Burge will serve five years of deferred adjudication probation in each case, to run concurrently — for a total of five years’ probation — and was fined $2,500 for each charge for a total of $5,000, Hagen said.
She is also required to surrender her teaching license, according to Hagen.
Burge, 33, was indicted on the two second-degree felony charges and a third-degree felony charge of online solicitation of a minor in December 2018, the Register previously reported.
The third-degree felony charge was dismissed, Hagen said, adding she will not have to register as a sex offender. Had she pleaded to the online solicitation of a minor charge, that would have been required, he said, because that charge is related to the age of the victim. The other charges were based on the victims’ relationship to Burge.
“These cases are always difficult,” Hagen said. “There are no excuses. Lynn is responsible. She made mistakes and she immediately accepted responsibility.”
He added his client is “incredibly remorseful, she is ashamed.”
Authorities have said Burge had intercourse with two of her male students — one described as 16 years old at the time, the other described as an adult. Burge also reportedly exchanged nude photos with the 16-year-old over a social media app, according to archived Register reports.
Burge taught intro to culinary arts, child development and principles of human services at Muenster High School and was the FCCLA adviser. Her last day with Muenster ISD was Oct. 12, 2018, the Register previously reported, and she was booked into jail six days later on the charges.
“Alcohol was in issue in this case,” Hagen said. “While it was an issue, it was not an excuse. Lynn has not had a drop of alcohol since she was accused. She is committed to AA and has been to a counselor on a regular basis.”
The effect of such cases goes beyond the families involved, Hagen said.
“John Warren is getting a lot of heat from the community,” he noted. The Cooke County district attorney told Hagen “the families involved did not want Lynn to go to prison,” Hagen said, but he thinks Warren didn’t see eye to eye with them. Warren did not return a request for comment by press time Wednesday.
(Update: In a statement the Register received after this story published, Warren said "after consulting with the families of the victims and receiving their input, we believe that this is a just and appropriate plea. The victims in this case will now be able to begin to put this behind them and move on with their lives.")
“John had a difficult decision to make,” Hagen said. “Does he put his personal beliefs before the wishes of the victims? He deserves credit for that. He was willing to take the political heat.
“The families of the victims have a right to be heard and have a say in the outcome. They chose forgiveness over vengeance. John Warren respected that.”
Burge pleaded not guilty in February to all three charges before 235th District Court Judge Janelle Haverkamp, Warren said earlier this year. A trial had been originally scheduled for Sept. 9 but was postponed, the Register previously reported.
Hagen said the case presented “legitimate legal issues” including potential attacks on the admissibility of crucial evidence. Defense decided not to file motions to suppress evidence because of the media attention the case had gotten, he said.