Anne Lakey, 55, from Stanley, County Durham, was once hailed as a visionary for turning around a failing school and making it one of the most improved in the country.
But a jury at Teesside Crown Court convicted her yesterday of 13 counts of indecent assault on a boy aged 13 or 14 and one aged 15 after deciding that her professional persona hid a sordid past.
At today’s sentencing hearing, Caroline Goodwin, prosecuting, said Lakey’s offending was a “gross breach of trust”.
She read statements from both victims about what had happened to them.
The younger man said: “As a kid I thought it was great what was happening, but now I see it for what it was – wrong.”
The other said: “I realise I was a victim of sexual exploitation and I feel a sense of shame that I allowed myself to be in that position.”
Lakey has been suspended from her role as chief executive of the Durham Federation, in charge of two secondary schools, since the younger complainant sent an accusing email in December 2012.
She was a national leader in education, lauded for improving pupils’ exam performance.
She oversaw a huge change at Fyndoune Community College in Sacriston, which had been failing. It went on to be rated as “outstanding”.
She was named in a Department for Education pamphlet as a “visionary leader” and described as “inspiring” by Sir Michael Wilshaw, the chief inspector of education.
But her achievements would be overshadowed by the historic abuse she committed in the late 1980s.
While she was married to her second of three husbands, she groomed the younger victim and he was encouraged to expose her breasts during a dare game at her home.
She let him watch her bathe, then took his virginity on the marital bed while he was still in his school uniform.
Lakey phoned his school when he was truanting, pretended to be his mother and said he was sick. She also encouraged him to call her “mommy”.
Meanwhile, she also took the older boy’s virginity in her tent at a camp in the middle of the night after she encouraged him to sneak over.
Lakey, a history and RE teacher in Sunderland at the time of the allegations, went on to have repeated sexual relations with both boys.
She tearfully denied all the allegations but admitted having a legal, sexual relationship with the older complainant when he was 18 and she was in her early 30s.
Lakey rose up the career ladder before taking on the chief executive role, but was exposed by the younger victim’s late night email, which branded her a “disgusting sexual monster”.
Its author was furious after he spotted a blog in which she said her “raison d’etre” was to help young people.
He named the second complainant who was to later tell police he too had been abused.
In the witness box he described how the sexual exploitation by an older woman left him confused.
“On the one hand, I was happy with my little self that I managed to lose my virginity before I was 16, which seemed really important at the time,” he said.
“On the other hand, everything was over so quickly. It should have been a bit more interesting than that.”
When the police began investigating the younger complainant’s email, Lakey rang him out of the blue to try and persuade him to lie to detectives.
He recalled: “The delivery was like A Level psychology 101. There was the initial ‘My poor father, lost my mother’ – a trump card to play.
“There was ‘my career, my daughter, my husband. I’ve definitely not had sex with any other children since’ was mentioned early on.
“It was laid on thick, emotionally at the start, towards the end there was flattery alongside that.”
Ms Goodwin asked how he felt about what happened to him.
“The phone call really summed up the whole thing,” he said.
“Here is somebody who has not spoken to me for 20 years who thought she could get me to pick up the phone and lie to the police, 20 years after.
“If that doesn’t give you an idea of the control she had over us lads, I don’t know what would.”