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The Butler School Owner Did It

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Mary Louise Starkey, head of the Denver-based butler school Starkey International Institute of Household Management, pleaded guilty in Denver District Court on Tuesday to assaulting Lisa Kirkpatrick, one of her former students.

The case stemmed from a February 7, 2007, incident at the school in which Starkey, the city's so-called First Lady of Service, grabbed Kirkpatrick by the neck and shoved her face toward a mirror because Starkey, 59, was upset about her pupil's appearance. It was one of several examples of turmoil at the prominent institution, according to former students and staff.

Starkey agreed to cop to third-degree assault, a misdemeanor, in exchange for the dismissal of her original felony second-degree assault charge, says Denver district attorney spokeswoman Lynn Kimbrough. She received a two-year deferred judgment under supervised probation, with the condition that she pay $10,233.06 in restitution to the DA's victim compensation program (which helped cover Kirkpatrick's medical bills). Starkey must also attend therapy and anger management classes.

"If she is successful in following these terms and conditions and does not commit any new criminal violations, on June 17 of 2010, she will go back to court and will be allowed to withdraw her guilty plea and the case will be dismissed," says Kimbrough.

Starkey didn't return a call seeking comment. Kirkpatrick, however, was displeased by the news, saying she wished Starkey had received harsher punishment. "I am disappointed, and I don't feel like justice was served," she says. "She is going to continue doing this until she kills somebody."

The courtroom sagas aren't over for Starkey. On May 13, she was arrested for domestic violence after she allegedly attacked a man who was living in her Denver apartment. That incident, which is set for a jury trial in Denver County Court on July 14, has no impact on her deferred judgment for the Kirkpatrick affair, says Kimbrough. "That will be a separate matter that will proceed on its own merits."

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