Teacher jailed for defilement of boy (16) who was her pupil
Substitute teacher was 23 when two offences took place
The teacher received a three-year jail sentence with two years suspended.
A substitute teacher who had sex with a 16-year-old boy who was her pupil has been jailed for one year.
The woman was aged 23 at the time of both offences and she waited until the boy’s 16th birthday before engaging in sexual activity on a date in early 2018 because she believed that was the legal age of consent.
The woman (25), who cannot be named to protect the identity of the victim, pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to two counts of defilement in early 2018. The offences took places at Gormanston Beach, Gormanston, Co Meath and at the Carlton Hotel, Tyrrelstown, Mulhuddart, Dublin.
Passing sentence on Thursday Judge Martin Nolan said he can accept that the woman believed the age of consent was 16 years old, but she was reckless and that, as a teacher, she should have known the age of consent. Judge Nolan said the case was aggravated by her being the victim’s teacher at the time.
He said she was in a position of authority and trust which she abused. He said the mitigating factors in the case were the woman’s early plea of guilty, her co-operation, her full admissions, her being a young inexperienced teacher at the time, the shame and ridicule she brought on herself by her misbehaviour, her losing her opportunity to teach and the unlikelihood of her offending to this extent in the future. Judge Nolan said it was “completely unethical and immoral” for a teacher to have sexual relations with a student.
He said that the question in the case is whether she deserved an immediate custodial sentence and the court had come to the view that she does. He sentenced her to three years imprisonment, but suspended the final two years of the sentence on condition she keep the peace and be of good behaviour while in custody and for two years post release. Judge Nolan said he considered ordering post release supervision of the Probation Service, but thinks there is no need for post release supervision as she is unlikely to re-offend. The woman, who has no previous convictions, cried throughout the sentence hearing.
At a sentencing hearing on Wednesday Detective Garda Stephen Hughes told Monika Leech , prosecuting, that the victim in this case was in his fifth year in secondary school when the woman started working there as a substitute teacher and began teaching him English. Dt Gda Hughes said the victim saw his teacher in a nightclub and waved at her. She came over to him, hugged him and they spoke to each other. That night they began to communicate via Snapchat, which shortly thereafter became daily communications. The two met outside of school again in January 2018, during which the teacher picked the victim up in her car and they drove around the area while talking.
On the boy’s 16th birthday, the teacher picked him up in her car and drove him to Gormanston Beach. She gave him birthday presents including a jumper, aftershave, highlighters and pens. The teacher and the boy began to kiss in the car before the matter progressed into sexual activity. The pair went on to engage in sexual intercourse. They met again on the day before Valentine’s Day while the boy was off school due to a mid-term break. The teacher drove the boy to the Carlton Hotel where there was a room booked in her name. After the teacher had bought the boy dinner and they spent some time watching television in the hotel room, they once again began to kiss which led to further sexual activity. They pair once again engaged in sexual intercourse. They slept together in the hotel room that night and she dropped him home the next morning. The boy told his parents that he had stayed in a friend’s house the previous night.
The teacher and the boy continued to communicate, but there was no further sexual contact. The boy believed the two were in a relationship and the teacher was concerned about people finding out as she would not be able to teach again, the court heard. The boy’s mother was aware her son was in a relationship with a girl bearing the teacher’s name, but was unaware this person was his teacher.
After being contacted about her son’s erratic school attendance, she contacted the school’s principal and discovered the woman’s identity. The teacher’s contract with the school was terminated by the principal.
In interview with gardaí, she said that after having sex they had discussed the age difference. She said that she looked young and that he had been in an over-18s nightclub so she was not concerned.
Det Gda Hughes agreed with James Dwyer, defending, that his client told gardaí that they waited until the boy’s 16th birthday as she believed that 16 was the appropriate age to conduct sexual behaviour.
Mr Dwyer handed into court a report from a specialist in childhood sexual abuse. The reports stated that the teacher had no sexual interest in children or adolescents and did not qualify as being a paedophile. It described her as a naive young woman who only recently realised the seriousness of her actions and took responsibility for them. The report stated that she did not groom the boy for her own sexual gratification, that he initiated sexual contact and she was flattered by it.
The report concluded that she posed a very low risk of re-offending and no more risk than anyone in society.
In his victim impact statement, which was read out in court, the boy said he had developed serious life threatening anxiety and depression. He said it followed him around like “a little black cloud” and that sometimes it felt like the cloud was shaped like a barking dog. Mr Dwyer said his client was no longer a teacher and was now employed in a different field.
He said she is currently in a relationship with a 28-year-old man. He read from a letter written by his client in which she took full responsibility for her actions and wanted to put it behind her. She said it was a “lifelong lesson” that she had learned from.
Mr Dwyer said there was a smaller age difference in this case than there were in other cases. He said that she was immature and he was attending nightclubs in his fifth year of school.
Mr Dwyer said the Teaching Council of Ireland were seeking a permanent order to prevent his client from teaching in the future and that such an order would not be resisted by his client. He said his client erroneously believed the age of consent was 16.