A tearful Ashley Blumenshine choked out an apology between sobs after pleading guilty to having sex with a teenage student from the high school where she was a teacher.
"I will forever be humbled and remorseful for my actions," Blumenshine, a former Plainfield North gym teacher, said before she was handcuffed and led away to the Will County jail Friday morning to serve 11 days behind bars.
The actual sentence was 30 days but it was halved by day-for-day credit. Blumenshine already served four of the remaining 15 days before she was released on bond.
In addition to the time in jail, Blumenshine, 30, was put on sex offender probation for two years and will be placed on the Illinois sex offender registry for 10 years.
Blumenshine faced much harsher penalties but prosecutors dropped a charge of aggravated criminal sexual abuse and replaced it with a charge of traveling to meet a minor, a class three felony.
The minor Blumenshine traveled to meet in January 2011 was in the parking lot of the Kohl's on Route 59. And when she met the 16-year-old Plainfield North junior, she had sex with him.
Blumenshine and the boy had texted each other to set up the rendezvous, said Assistant State's Attorney Frank Byers.
Plainfield police officers reportedly noticed two cars parked alone together in the Kohl's lot, and when they went to investigate, found Blumenshine and the teen in one of the vehicles. The boy was "attempting to get dressed" in the back seat, Byers said, and both he and Blumenshine admitted they had just had sex.
After her arrest, Blumenshine was subjected to a sex offender evaluation. Both her attorney, George Lenard, and Byers said the evaluation showed there is a "very low risk" of her having sex with another teenage boy.
In a letter filed in court last week, Blumenshine said she has turned her life around.
"I have been holding down a 'Teller Position' at the Marseilles Bank for the last year," she wrote in the letter. "I bought a house and settled back into small town living again. I also met a nice young man who plays in the church band and we have been together for the past five months. But, most importantly I found God again."
Blumenshine pointed to the death of her mother, when Blumenshine herself was in high school, as the point her life started unraveling.
"Since being arrested and hitting rock bottom I have begun to find myself," she said in her letter. "Every now and then God puts people in the middle of a storm so that they can find strength in him again and I have. I know that he has forgiven me for my sins, but it is hard to forgive myself for what I did. I wish with all my heart I could take it back, but I can't."