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Falls teacher gets 10 years of probation

Former Niagara Falls substitute teacher John T. Summerson, denounced as a "monster" by the victim's mother, was placed on 10 years of probation Friday for having sex with a 14-year-old girl.

The sentence had been agreed upon Jan. 30, when Summerson, 25, of 76th Street, pleaded guilty to attempted second-degree rape.

The sex in February 2011 was not forcible, investigators said, but it was a crime because the girl was younger than 17.

The girl, who was not a student of Summerson's, transferred to another school, but only with difficulty, her mother said Friday in Niagara County Court.

"She was bullied at school by teachers and students," the mother charged. "We had to hire a lawyer to get the district to allow her to go to another school."

"Probably, as I indicated at the time of the plea, probation is an appropriate sentence," Assistant District Attorney Robert A. Zucco said. "There is a need for some no-nonsense sex offender treatment."

Judge Sara Sheldon Farkas imposed that and more among 36 probation conditions. A violation of any of them could leave Summerson vulnerable to a prison sentence of up to four years.

"I think you'll find it's going to make him think twice before this happens again," Farkas told the mother.

Farkas also issued a restraining order barring Summerson from contact with the girl for the next 18 years.

The mother said her daughter "has seen him out [since the incident]. He waves and smiles, and she goes home and locks herself in her room and won't shower. His intelligence and education is nothing compared to him being a monster."

Defense attorney James J. Faso Jr. said Summerson surrendered his teaching license as a condition of the plea deal.

Summerson had been a building-based substitute at Niagara Street School in the Falls.

"He had only worked there a short time when this incident happened," Faso said.

"I just want to say I'm sorry," Summerson said.

Faso asked Farkas if she could omit the usual probation rule against drinking alcohol, but the judge refused.

Faso said Summerson only drinks a couple of beers every three of four months, and Farkas commented, "Then he won't miss it."

The judge allowed Summerson to use a computer, but only to look for a job and other work-related purposes.

However, she barred him from any contact with anyone under age 18, including Summerson's own relatives, unless there is another adult supervising.

She also banned him from coming within 1,000 feet of a school, which forces Summerson to move.