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Erica DePalo, New Jersey Ex-Teacher Of The Year, Avoids Prison On Sex Charge

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Erica DePalo, right, walks with her attorney Anthony Alfano into Essex County Superior Court before an appearance, Wednesday, Sept. 12, 2012, in Newark, N.J. | AP

NEWARK, N.J. -- A former New Jersey county Teacher of the Year who admits having sex with a 15-year-old student from her honors English class has been spared prison time.

A judge in Newark on Monday sentenced 33-year-old Erica DePalo to lifetime parole supervision. DePalo also will have to forfeit her teaching certificate and register as a sex offender.

Prosecutors say the Montclair resident had a short sexual relationship with a boy at West Orange High School.

A tearful DePalo apologized. She pleaded guilty in February to child endangerment. She initially was charged with aggravated sexual assault and could've faced up to 10 years in prison if convicted.

A defense attorney says antidepressants the 2011 Essex County Teacher of the Year had been incorrectly prescribed contributed to her errors in judgment but aren't an excuse.

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