A 38-year-old Santa Ana woman pleaded guilty Monday to having a sexual relationship with a 15-year-old family friend who got her pregnant and was sentenced to a year in jail.
Debra Ayala pleaded guilty to a felony lewd act with a child 14 or 15 years old, oral copulation with someone younger than 16, and unlawful sexual intercourse, according to court records. Under the terms of the plea deal with prosecutors, three of the same counts were dismissed, Ayala's attorney Michael L. Guisti said.
Orange County Superior Court Judge Erick Larsh sentenced Ayala to 365 days in an Orange County jail and three years of probation. She must also register as a sex offender, according to Deputy District Attorney Jess Rodriguez, who negotiated the plea deal.
``That was a key part of the plea,'' Rodriguez said.
If Ayala was convicted on all six charges she could have faced up to seven years and eight months in prison, prosecutors said in March when she was charged.
Ayala was married with three children when she had the affair with the boy, who lived nearby, Deputy District Attorney Robert Mestman said when he filed charges against her in March. The case was later passed on to Rodriguez.
Ayala had been friends with the boy's family and started inviting the victim to her house late at night in early 2009, Mestman said.
Ayala was accused of having sex with the boy about two times a week between February and November 2009, according to Mestman. She gave birth to the boy's daughter Nov. 21, 2009, Mestman said.
The boy's family has custody of the girl, but Ayala is battling for visitation rights, according to Rodriguez.
The boy's mother grew suspicions when she found suggestive handwritten notes between the two and confronted her son, who admitted the relationship, Mestman said.
The boy's mother alerted Santa Ana police March 14, Mestman said.
Guisti said Ayala was the victim.
``Here we have a young man who is bigger than I am -- 6 feet tall,'' Guisti said. ``He was the sexual aggressor and his actions were quite aggressive in this case. He was a teenage boy who wanted sex.''
Guisti criticized the law that allows for the prosecution in situations like this.
``I am in no way advocating child sex, but I'm not sure this would have happened in some other states,'' where teenagers younger than 18 can get a parent's permission to get married, Guisti said.
Rodriguez said ``that's not the position of the victim and certainly not his family.''
The boy first had sex with Ayala, who had watched him grow up, before he graduated from elementary school, Rodriguez said. ``The victim had known her pretty much his whole life,'' Rodriguez said.
The victim's family accepted the plea deal because they didn't want to go through with a trial, Rodriguez said.
``This was extremely hard for the victim's family because they trusted her,'' Rodriguez said. ``The victim's mom thought of her like a sister.''
How the legal battle over visitation rights is resolved will factor into whatever restitution Ayala owes the victim in the criminal case, Rodriguez said.