Richmond judge rejects ex-teacher’s plea deal

RICHMOND, Va (WTVR) – A Richmond circuit court judge rejected a plea deal agreed to by a former Richmond teacher accused of having an inappropriate relationship with a minor.

“I reject your plea, have a good day,” Judge Richard Taylor said when it was announced in court.

William Lee Hazelgrove Jr. left the courtroom minutes the judge’s decision which left both prosecution and the defense lawyers speechless and even caused a bailiff to gasp. Hazelgrove is being defended by Todd Stone, who also serves as a CBS 6 legal analyst.

In court Friday, Richmond Deputy Commonwealth’s Attorney Mary Langer told the judge Hazelgrove, 55, had a relationship with a 17-year-old student from Trinity Episcopal School from January 2011 to May 2011. Hazelgrove was an art teacher at the school.

Langer described to the court how the reported relationship began with “touching, but turned intimate at Hazelgrove’s Richmond home.”

In court as part of the plea agreement the original felony charge of indecent liberties with a minor, was downgraded to what prosecutors confirm is a misdemeanor delinquency of a minor charge.

The revised offense could have allowed Hazelgrove to have the 12 months of jail time agreed upon by prosecutors and the defense suspended – essentially letting him go free.  The plea agreement also asked the court to impose a condition that he would not be allowed to teach students under the age of 18.

Legal Expert Ed Riley told reporter Jerrita Patterson it is now back to the drawing board for both sides.

“From the judge’s perspective, I would imagine they are difficult to judge too because you are going to get criticism no matter which way you go often times even when you have a case like this that has some consensus between the two parties,” Riley said.  “The prosecution that is representing the victim and the defense as a way to resolve it that would have appeared to have been a fair resolution.  But you never really know and we don’t from today, so we have to wait to see.”

At this time the misdemeanor charge has been thrown out and Hazelgrove is once again facing a felony.  The charge for indecent liberties with a minor carries with it the possibility of five years in prison and or a fine up to $2,500 if convicted.

The new court date has not been set.