Lakeland, Florida -- A former Lakeland teacher who admitted to having sex with some of her students will spend the next 22 years behind bars.
Despite apologizing for her behavior, a judge called Jennifer Fichter, 30, a predator, then sent her to prison on Thursday for more than two decades.
"All I can say is I'm so sorry," the former English teacher told family members and the court.
When she was first arrested, she would grin during her court hearings, but there were only tears during her sentencing as the former teacher at Lakeland's Central Florida Aerospace Academy apologized and asked for mercy.
"I wish I could take it back, and my words are not going to suffice I know that," said Fichter.
ARREST AFFIDAVIT:Details of encounter with student
In a recorded phone call played in court, Fichter admitted to aborting a pregnancy with one of her young victims. She also confessed to having multiple sexual encounters with at least two other boys.
"You were pregnant and had an abortion, is that true?" one of the victim's mothers asked her in a recording.
"Yes, that's true," replied Fichter.
The judge heard from a psychologist who said Fichter had made bad choices. Her father also asked the court to get his daughter help.
But victims and their family members say the 30-year-old former teacher had shattered their lives. Preying on her teenage students. Meeting at parties, off-campus locations, and even her own apartment for sex.
"It hurts," said one mother addressing the court, "I saw myself losing my son before my very eyes and there was nothing I could do to reach him."
Prosecutors say Fichter lied to the victims' parents. She also had the students lie on her behalf, knowing she would be in trouble if she was ever caught.
Fichter faced up to 15 years on each of 37 counts of sexual contact with a minor.
Prosecutor say although she was tearful today, the former teacher was not remorseful at the time. And just because Fichter is female, and her male students were willing participants, does not make them any less victimized, they argued.
"If a man came in here today, your honor, and told you that he continually had sex with his teenage female students over a period of years, because it made him feel good about himself, he would be buried under the jail," said the prosecutor.
The judge sentenced Fichter to 22 years, which was three years less than a plea deal with she had rejected in April.
Fichter still faces charges in Hillsborough County, for having sex with some of the same students in that jurisdiction.
Jennifer Fichter Timeline:
- November 2008: Allegations in Orange County of inappropriate contact with an 8th grader.
- December 2008: Fichter resigns from Orange County Public Schools.
- August 2011: She's hired by Polk County Public Schools.
- September 2011: Deputies say Fichter had sex with a 17-year-old studentfrom Central Florida Aerospace Academy.
- August 2012: Allegations of inappropriate Facebook contact with another 17-year-old student. Polk County Sheriff's Office investigates, but no charges are filed.
- January to April 2014: Lakeland police say Fichter was having sex with another 17-year-old student from Central Florida Aerospace Academy.
- April 14, 2014: Fichter is arrested and charged with 6 counts.
- April 24, 2014: Lakeland Police interview two more potential victims
- April 25, 2014: Fichter's bond is raised by $300,000 on new charges
Here is more coverage of the case: