Victorian teacher spared jailed after pleading guilty to sex with student in her car
A former Victorian teacher has been ostracised from her community after starting a sexual relationship with a student.
The 31-year-old woman avoided jail when she was sentenced in the Victorian County Court on Friday for her relationship with the boy, who was 16.
She pleaded guilty to four charges of sex with a 16-year-old who was under her care or supervision and has been sentenced to 300 hours of community work.
A level of community criticism is a natural consequence of those sorts of criminal charges but it had gone to a "fairly extreme level" in this woman's case, the judge found.
She had effectively become a pariah in her community - threatened and ridiculed in the street, refused service in supermarkets, sacked from two jobs because of threats of boycotts by people against the businesses, and suspended from her volunteer role with the local fire brigade.
That was described by the organisation as a loss to both her and them.
The judge said the teacher and the boy connected after the death of one of his friends, and her partner ending their relationship over her mental health and fertility concerns.
"I do not find this offending was in any way, shape or form predatory," the judge said. "The situation arose out of an utterly inappropriate relationship which escalated."
While acknowledging her actions amounted to serious criminal offending, the judge said he had concerns about the charge itself. He previously said the charge related more to the breach of trust, rather than the sexual act.
Judges were conditioned to treat it as if the complainant was underage, but the boy was nearly 17, he added.
"At some stage someone is going to have to sit down and really work out what this charge means," he said. "I'll say no more, or I'll perhaps get myself into trouble."
The court was told the teacher and student struck a supportive friendship and spoke over Instagram and by text messaging.
The pair met late one evening after the boy snuck out of his house and kissed in a car, after a discussion about the inappropriate nature of a teacher-student relationship.
They met again later and had sex.
The school was notified anonymously and the teacher was stood down. 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 did later admit to the relationship.
The boy later told police "you guys probably see it as if 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 have to cop it," the judge read from his statement.
"She didn't mean it in the way it's typically done when a teacher tries 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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