Standing shackled in a Lucas County Common Pleas courtroom with her family behind her, Dawn Fisher said her eyes had been opened and that she was ready to live life again as an improved person.
Convicted in 2006 for having a sexual relationship with a teenage boy and giving birth to his child, Fisher was sent to prison in July, 2007, for violating conditions of her probation. Yesterday, after twice denying her requests for early release, Judge James Bates released Fisher from her two-year sentence, ordering her not to have any contact with the victim.
Under consideration was a letter from the victim's mother, who said that her now 3-year-old granddaughter needs her mother out of prison.
"I, being the mother of the boy involved, feel her release would be extremely beneficial for her daughter [my granddaughter]. I feel mother and daughter have been apart long enough," the victim's mother said in a letter attached with the most recent motion for judicial release.
Fisher, 34, formerly of Swanton, gave birth in December, 2005. She had begun the relationship with the boy, then 14, the year before.
A mother of three, she pleaded no contest in September, 2006, to unlawful sexual conduct with a minor and was sentenced to house arrest and probation. She violated those conditions in 2007 when she failed to complete sex-offender treatment programs ordered at her sentencing. Judge Bates said yesterday that he was not making similar programs a condition of the two years of community control imposed yesterday.
Fisher had no comment as she was led away from the courtroom. But her parents, husband, and brother, who were there, said they were ready to help her put her past behind her.
"My daughter was overwhelmed and beside herself in a lot of areas but now she has shown such strength," said her mother, Virginia Phillips, who has helped her son-in-law raise the young girl in her daughter's absence. "Now she's got it really all together."
Cleveland-based attorney Elizabeth Kelley told Judge Bates that she filed the most recent request for judicial release, not because she was stubborn or because Fisher was avoiding punishment, but because Fisher "desperately, passionately wants to return to her family, especially her three children."
And to ensure that she succeeds, Ms. Kelley submitted to the judge a "game plan" that included where Fisher would live, the support she would be given, and said that all appointments concerning the victim's visitation with his daughter would be handled through a third party.
"I would not have filed the third motion but for the fact that the victim's mother wrote a letter in support of early release," she said after the hearing, adding that Fisher had been "fully rehabilitated."
In a letter to the judge written Nov. 28, Fisher said she has remorse for her actions and that the experience has forced her to "succeed in bettering myself." She listed several programs and counseling that she completed while incarcerated and insisted that the experience was one she would never want to endure again.
"I will continue to work on bettering myself everyday upon my release," she wrote. " Grant me this judicial release and allow me to take care of my responsibilities at home and to start a better life."
The victim and his family were not in court yesterday.