BALLSTON SPA — A former Saratoga Springs elementary school teacher was sentenced Wednesday to 15 years in prison for raping a 13-year-old former student, according to Saratoga County District Attorney Karen A. Heggen.
Elizabeth M. Barthelmas, 49, of Wilton, pleaded guilty in July to one count of first-degree rape in Saratoga County Court.
At the sentencing, the former student addressed Barthelmas directly.
"You took away one of the most important aspects of my life -- my innocence," he said. "You took full advantage of my body and my brain. It's sickening."
The former student also addressed the stigma of coming forward as a male victim of sexual assault.
"We need to hold female perpetrators to the same standards as males," he said. "No man or woman should have to endure sexual abuse at any age. I hope my story will encourage other victims to share theirs. I will prove that good may come from evil. I'm a survivor."
Barthelmas was arrested in June 2017 after an investigation by the Saratoga County Sheriff's Office. Deputies received a tip about the relationship and determined Barthelmas raped the former student between 2007 and 2008, officials said. The child had been a student in Barthelmas' classroom before the sexual relationship began, and all of the crimes are believed to have happened at Barthelmas' home, deputies said after the arrest.
In July, Barthelmas' attorney, Michael McDermott, said his client came forward to police about the crime because she felt guilty about what she had done.
Heggen would not go into details about the tip that led to the investigation, but she pushed back against the defense's assertion. The DA clarified police were looking into Barthelmas' misconduct before she spoke to them, saying the former teacher "was not the precipitating factor" in the arrest.
Barthelmas had been a teacher at Dorothy Nolan Elementary School in the Saratoga Springs City School District since 2005. The district initially issued a statement after her arrest indicating she had been suspended, and confirmed in July that she was no longer employed in the district.