A former teacher, branded as a "sex offender" for an unlawful affair with a teenage student, was cleared today on charges that she violated the terms of her probation
by communicating on Facebook with a teenager, who was actually a Port Orange police officer using a fake identity.
Cynthia Horvath, a 45-year-old married mother of four, was allowed to return home and continue serving out her sentence of community control, a stricter probationary sentence which is akin to house arrest.
She could have been sent to prison for between four and 15 years if found guilty of violating community control.
Before leaving a Daytona Beach courtroom, she told the judge she would abide by the long list of restrictions. "I would just like to say the stipulations are more far-reaching than I realized. This has taught me to be careful with everything I do
," she said.
Under the terms of her punishment, she isn't allowed any contact with any minor except her own children, she gave up her teaching license and is now a registered "sex offender," making her subject to a long list of special restrictions and making her photo and address available on the state's public database for sex offenders and predators.
Today, in a Daytona Beach courtroom, Chief Circuit Judge J. David Walsh listened to more than two hours of testimony and ruled that her activity on the social networking site Facebook wasn't a "willful" violation
of the terms of her probation.
According to testimony, Port Orange police received a tip that Horvath was communicating with former students on Facebook. Officers found at least one teenager among her Facebook friends.
Port Orange police set up a fake Facebook profile for a "Steve Warren," listing him as a 16-year-old boy in Port Orange who attends Atlantic High School. On March 31, Horvath accepted a friend request from Steve Warren and communicated with him using the Facebook chat, according to testimony.
Her husband, Nick Horvath, testified that she thought Steve might have been her son Billy, from a previous marriage. Her ex-husband has restricted her from seeing her son since her arrest.
Her attorney, Aaron Delgado, argued that there's no proof that Horvath had checked the profile of "Steve Warren" before accepting the friend request and pointed out that she stopped the chat after realizing that Steve wasn't who she thought it was