Megan Denman, 30, pleaded guilty to six felony charges just a few months after her arrest. But she wasn't expecting to serve any jail time.
Denman came to court knowing other female teachers in her situation had avoided prison or even jail time. She was emotional throughout the hearing, and the worst of it came when she found out she wouldn't be as lucky as her peers.
Megan Denman's already wet eyes filled with tears as a deputy put her in handcuffs for a long trip to the Fresno County jail -- a trip her attorney says came as a shock.
"Was Megan ready to go to jail today?" an Action News reporter asked her attorney, Roger Nuttall.
"I don't think so, mainly because I didn't think she would go to jail today," Nuttall replied.
That belief was based in part on the sentence given to former Washington Union teacher Nadia Diaz less than two months ago for her sexual relationship with a 15-year-old. Diaz got probation and no jail time.
In Denman's case, she faced as long as 26 years in prison for a lengthy sexual relationship with a student. The former social sciences teacher was 28 when it all started. The victim was 16.
Prosecutor Lara Clinton argued that a sentence of probation would prove a double standard for female teachers.
"I think if we were talking about a 28-year-old man having sex with a 16-year-old student who is a child, his student, that would be pretty repulsive," she said.
But the victim didn't want Denman prosecuted, psychiatrists said she's extremely unlikely to repeat the crime, and she gave the judge an emotional apology.
"I'm very sorry for ther disappointment I've cause co-workers, students, myself, my husband," she said. "Every day I live with the guilt and hate that I have for what I've done."
The judge's final ruling means she'll carry that guilt to jail.
Denman is scheduled to get out of jail on April 30. She won't be able to work as a teacher again, but the judge also ordered she won't have to register as a sex offender.