LAFAYETTE — A former Ascension Episcopal School counselor was sentenced Wednesday to serve 30 years in prison for attempting to entice a 14-year-old student to engage in criminal sexual activity.
U.S. District Judge Richard T. Haik also ordered Allison Hargrave, 40, to pay $279,454 in restitution to the girl.
Haik told Hargrave he considered giving her a life sentence for what she did to the youth, who came to her “devastated” and in need of help.
“She’s gonna survive, but not because of you,” Haik said.
Hargrave was a counselor and yoga instructor at the school when she began counseling the girl in the spring of 2009.
In the fall of 2009, Hargrave began graphically discussing engaging in sexual activities with the girl through texts and emails.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Luke Walker, who prosecuted the case, questioned the girl about the incident during the sentencing hearing.
“Did she rape you?” he asked.
“Yes,” the girl replied.
The incident occurred in a medical office in Lafayette that belonged to Hargrave’s now ex-husband.
As a result of the incident, the girl said she became suicidal, developed an inability to trust people and was forced to seek treatment at a residential treatment center in Denham Springs.
She said she had to leave Lafayette and all the people she knew here.
“I think I have one friend left that I’m still in contact with from Lafayette,” the girl said.
The Advocate does not identify victims of sex crimes.
Walker asked for a stiff sentence because of Hargrave’s medical background and her position at the school.
Walker said Hargrave knew the girl was the most vulnerable person at school. He said she then began to groom the child for sex.
“It is a horrific case,” Walker said.
Prior to sentencing, Hargrave addressed the court, calling her actions “deplorable.”
She said she betrayed the girl’s trust and the trust of her family.
Hargrave said she felt “profound anguish” for the number of people who were impacted and shocked by her actions, “which I am greatly sorry for.”
Hargrave was indicted in May 2010, arrested in June 2010 and pleaded guilty in March, facing a mandatory minimum 10 years to life.
Prior to her plea, Hargrave had attempted to use an insanity defense in her case, but government experts found her mentally stable enough to comprehend the case.
The experts confirmed mental problems, though, particularly post-traumatic stress disorder.
Frank Ochberg, a psychiatrist called in by Hargrave’s defense attorney, Kevin Stockstill, also testified during the hearing.
“I think she behaved in a way that was deplorable and wrong, but I don’t think she’s a predator,” Ochberg said.
Ochberg said several traumatic incidents pushed Hargrave into mental illness, including being sexually abused by older boys at the age of 4, raped at 17 and attacked by a mentally ill patient at age 27. She was also going through a divorce, change of occupation and an affair with the headmaster of the school during that time, Ochberg said.
The previous headmaster at the school, Pat Dickens, resigned from the school last year after allegations emerged that he had sex with Hargrave.
Hargrave resigned from the school in March 2010.
The parents of the victim have filed a civil lawsuit in the 15th Judicial District Court seeking damages from Hargrave and the school. That suit is still pending.