A former Victorian teacher was ostracized from her community after beginning a sexual relationship with a student.
The 31-year-old woman escaped jail when she was convicted in Victorian County Court on Friday of her relationship with the 16-year-old boy.
She pleaded guilty to four charges of having sex with a 16-year-old who was under her care or supervision and was sentenced to 300 hours of community service.
Some level of community criticism is a natural outgrowth of these types of criminal charges, but in this woman’s case it had gone to “rather extreme levels,” the judge noted.
She had become a virtual outcast in her community – threatened and taunted on the street, refused service in supermarkets, fired from two jobs for threats to boycott the shops, and suspended from her volunteer work with the local fire department.
That was described by the organization as a loss for her and her.
The judge said the teacher and the boy bonded after the death of one of his friends and that her partner ended their relationship over her mental health and fertility concerns.
“I don’t think that insult was predatory in any way,” the judge said. “The situation arose out of a totally inappropriate relationship that escalated.”
While admitting her actions amounted to a serious offense, the judge said he had concerns about the charges themselves. He previously said the charges relate to the breach of trust rather than the sexual act.
The judges had been conditioned to treat the applicant as if he were a minor, but the boy was almost 17 years old, he added.
“At some point someone has to sit down and really figure out what these charges mean,” he said. “I won’t say anything more or I might get myself in trouble.”
The court was told the teacher and student formed a supportive friendship and spoke via Instagram and text message.
The couple met late one night after the boy sneaked out of his house and kissed in a car, following a discussion about the inappropriateness of a teacher-student relationship.
They later met again and had sex.
The school was notified anonymously and the teacher was fired. The boy was contacted by police but told them nothing had happened before asking the teacher to delete messages between them.
She admitted to others that they had been together, and although she didn’t admit it in a formal interview, she later admitted the relationship.
The boy later told police, “You guys probably take it like she’s trying to get me.”
He told them she was a nice person and “I never wanted it to end like this and I never wanted her to deal with it,” the judge read from his testimony.
“She didn’t mean it the way it’s usually done when a teacher is trying to get a student.”
The woman was also ordered to undergo treatment for her mental health and a sex offender rehabilitation program.
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