A Maricopa County Superior Court judge on Wednesday reduced the bail amount of a Gilbert teacher accused of fathering the baby of a 16-year-old student.
Although Judge Linda Akers declined a defense attorney’s request to release Ben LeMere on his own recognizance, she did agree to lower his bail from $180,000 to $7,500 and placed him on house arrest, with an electronic monitor to keep track of his movements.
Akers also ordered LeMere not to have any contact with the girl, case witnesses or minors.
"If you think you are going to defeat the process in any way, you should think again," Akers said, referring to the electronic monitoring device.
LeMere was arrested on suspicion of sexual conduct with a minor on March 28 after DNA tests indicated he is the father of the student’s baby, who has been given up for adoption.
Higley Unified School District officials said LeMere went to Higley High School principal Burnie Hibbard on Jan. 23 to tell him about rumors he fathered the child’s baby. LeMere denied the allegation and provided police a DNA sample Jan. 31. He has since acknowledged he fathered the child.
"Again, Mr. LeMere has no criminal record, he is extremely remorseful and he has been cooperative with law enforcement," defense attorney Christopher Trautman said.
Deputy county attorney Dante Alegre suggested the $7,500 bail, noting that the girl’s father made no specific requests in regards to bail when informed of Wednesday’s hearing.
A plea offer has been extended to LeMere and the case should be resolved "fairly quickly," Alegre told the judge. After court, he declined to elaborate.
LeMere’s next court appearance is May 23.