A practicing witch was carried sobbing from a courtroom after being convicted of statutory rape for seducing a 14-year-old boy who said she cast a spell on him and signed love letters in blood.

Kerri Lynn Patavino, overcome by emotion after the verdict was announced in Bridgeport Superior Court Patavino, clutched her husband as he carried her out of the courtroom, and began sobbing uncontrollably. Hours after the verdict, Patavino, 28, still tearful, maintained her innocence."Regular people have the assumption that because I'm a witch, I must do bad things. It's natural instincts to fear what you don't know," Patavino said.

Patavino, freed on bond, faces a maximum of 115 years in prison, although her sentence is likely to be a fraction of that. There is a mandatory minimum of nine months on the sexual assault charges. Patavino's defense attorney, Joseph Mirsky, said he would appeal.

Her accuser was a 14-year-old student at Madison Middle School in Trumbull when he met Patavino, then his 26-year-old bus driver.

During two days of testimony, the boy said Patavino took him out for pizza in February 1995, then seduced him. The relationship began about a month before the boy's 15th birthday.

The boy, now 16, said they had sex four times a week for the next four months, until Patavino began to do "weird things," including cutting herself with a razor during sex and forcing him to lick her blood.

Letters Patavino wrote to the boy were read to the jury.

The boy said when he tried to break off the relationship in June 1995, Patavino refused to let him go, casting a witch's spell on him to make him stay.

The boy finally told his mother, who brought him to police.

Patavino, a mother of three, did not testify. But her lawyer claimed the boy made up the story because he had sexually abused her 9-year-old daughter. The defense did not explain the letters during the trial, but Patavino denied later that what she wrote in them was meant to be sexual.

Patavino, who was accused of giving the boy drugs, was convicted of five counts of second-degree sexual assault and six counts of risk of injury to a minor.

Patavino is a follower of Wicca, an ancient, nature-based religion practiced by witches. Judge Joseph Gormley Jr. told jurors that Patavino has the right to practice Wicca and they should not hold that against her.