Baltimore socialite and former Ravens cheerleader Molly Shattuck pleaded guilty to statutory rape Tuesday, admitting in a few brief words to an affair with a 15-year-old boy — a plea that leaves her branded as a felon and a sex offender.
Shattuck, 48, the former wife of former Constellation Energy CEO Mayo A. Shattuck, was accused in November of sexually abusing one of her son's classmates, including performing oral sex on him in a rented vacation house in Bethany Beach.
She kept her head down as she entered the small courthouse and gripped the hands of two women as she bustled into the courtroom. Seated at a trial table with her attorney, Eugene Maurer, she jerked up from her seat when Judge E. Scott Bradley entered, and she showed no obvious emotion.
The judge leafed through the plea agreement before posing a series of questions. "Did you commit the offense you are pleading guilty to?" he asked.
"Yes," Shattuck said.
No statement of facts was read in support of the plea, and prosecutor John Donahue did not take part in the proceeding.
Shattuck, a self-styled fitness guru who was the oldest cheerleader in NFL history, could face up to 15 years in prison for the fourth-degree rape charge when she is sentenced at a hearing set for Aug. 21.
A number of other charges, including more serious third-degree rape counts, were dropped as part of the plea agreement.
Michael W. Modica, a former Delaware prosecutor, said the deal seemed typical. He said sentencing guidelines call for up to two years in prison, but noted that they are not binding on the judge.
"I don't think she was treated any differently because she was a woman," said Modica, who is now a defense attorney. "She's looking at a pretty serious potential sentence."
As part of the plea, Shattuck agreed to forgo any unsupervised contact with children, except her own, and to have DNA and HIV tests as well as a mental health evaluation that will include "sexual disorder counseling."
Perhaps the most serious consequence of the plea, Modica said, is that she'll have to register as a sex offender. Shattuck's plea calls for her to register for 25 years on Delaware's list, and because she lives in Maryland, Delaware police will notify Maryland officials, who will consider whether she needs to register under Maryland law.
Modica called having to register a burden she'll carry for a long time and "almost worse than a jail sentence."
The affair began in May 2014, when Shattuck began a flirtation with the boy — a McDonogh School student — on the social networking site Instagram, according to an affidavit for a search warrant filed in Baltimore County District Court.
The Baltimore Sun does not name victims of sexual crimes.
As the relationship developed over the summer, Shattuck took the boy out of school to kiss him in the back seat of her Escalade, according to the documents. Then over Labor Day weekend, while on vacation with her children at Bethany Beach, she performed oral sex on him twice, investigators alleged.
Just months before, Shattuck had sat for a Baltimore Sun interview that showed her confidently working through her separation with her husband and forging a new, independent identity. But the sexual abuse allegations left Shattuck's carefully crafted image as a devoted mother and charity worker in tatters.
The Shattucks' divorce, which ended a 17-year marriage, was finalized days after a nine-count indictment against her was unsealed in November. Custody arrangements for their three children have not been publicized, but Modica said her ex-husband could use the rape conviction as ammunition in any dispute.
As she awaited trial, Shattuck was free on an $84,000 bond. Her guilty plea came the day before a hearing that was to be the last before the case headed to trial.
After the hearing, Shattuck stood motionless in the courtroom for a few moments, looking toward the benches where about a half-dozen reporters were grouped. She then wandered back to the trial table and stood there until one of her lawyers called to her and led her into the public gallery.
Shattuck signed some paperwork and Maurer took her into a private room to talk.
Outside, some onlookers waited on the pavement in front of the courthouse eager to see who the news cameras were waiting for.
Shattuck, surrounded by a group of women who had been with her all day, emerged from the building and crossed the street to a waiting SUV. She ignored the shouted questions of reporters, as did her lawyers. She got in on the driver's side and one of the women held a purse against the window, blocking the view inside until the vehicle drove off into traffic.
Trinity Goldsborough watched from inside the bail bonds office where she works, a phone pressed to her ear. She knew about the case.
"It is crazy," Goldsborough said. "Hopefully she got what she deserved."
Baltimore Sun reporters Kevin Rector, Jean Marbella and Yvonne Wenger contributed to this article.