Case of Houston mom accused in underage affair dropped

HOUSTON Charges against Lauri Price, 43, were dropped after investigators determined they would not be able to show Price knew the teenager was underage, said Donna Hawkins, a spokeswoman for the Harris County District Attorney's Office.

The teenager had told Price he was 20 years old, Hawkins said.

"Throughout the search of (Price's) e-mails and her online history with the (teenager), the investigation was never able to determine the defendant knew he was a minor," she said.

Prosecutors also decided to drop the charges because the teen's parents weren't willing to let him testify and there were some jurisdictional issues related to the age of consent, Hawkins said.

Price wasn't charged in Canada because the age of consent there is 16. In Texas, it is 17.

Skip Cornelius, Price's attorney, said his client is relieved the case is over.

"But I don't know how much happiness there will be in this," he said. "This was a serious ordeal for her. She's got to try to put her life back together now."

Cornelius said his client, who always thought the teen was 20 years old, never should have been charged because she committed no crime.

The three charges Price faced -- two counts of online solicitation of a minor and one count of enticing a child with the intent to commit a felony -- were dismissed earlier this week. Her trial was to begin Friday.

If convicted, Price had faced two to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000 for each charge.

Authorities had accused Price of starting an online sexual relationship with the boy, then 15 years old, in September 2008 after meeting him on the Internet video game "World of Warcraft."

Price went to the teenager's home in Barrie, Ontario, in February 2009 but failed to lure him away, police said.

The online relationship continued. Price returned to Canada on Dec. 29, took the teen to a hotel in a nearby city and had sex with him, authorities said. Price was arrested Jan. 5 after returning to the U.S.

Price, who has four children, had worked as a permanent substitute teacher with the Cypress-Fairbanks school district in suburban Houston. Prosecutors said Price was fired from her job after her arrest.

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