A former Jacksonville, Florida fifth-grade teacher pleaded guilty Thursday in a sex case involving a student she tutored in math and counseled at church. The 40-year-old mother will spend 13 months in state prison for one count of unlawful sexual activity with a victim who is 16 or 17.
School officials said the victim was not a student at the elementary school where the woman taught. The woman was originally charged with three sex offenses involving the minor at the time of her arrest last December.
According to Jacksonville.com, the victim’s mother notified school officials about an inappropriate relationship between the woman and her son, whose exact age was not released by police.
Initially the victim told police that he and the woman just kissed and texted about a sexual relationship, according to police reports. However, once police told the victim that the woman admitted guilt, the victim allegedly confessed to a months-long sexual relationship with the teacher.
The woman taught at the elementary school since 2006. The Duval County School Board fired the teacher in a unanimous vote in February.
Included in the woman’s punishment is five years of probation following her release. A Circuit Judge ordered that she receive counseling and pay for the victim’s counseling. She will no longer be able to volunteer or work around children, use the Internet or have any contact with the victim.
It is important for anyone accused of a sex crime to consult with legal counsel before confessing any guilt or accepting any offers brought forth by the prosecution. Sometimes prosecutors unknowingly rely on false statements and testimonies, and an experienced sex crimes defense lawyer can advise you of your best legal options and provide you with a strong defense for your unique situation. Sex crimes accusations carry harsh social stigmas that can have devastating impacts, even if the person is found to be innocent. In addition to lengthy prison sentences for sex crimes, those convicted usually face lifetime registration as a sex offender.
There are specific discovery requests in all sex crimes cases that should be made to figure out what evidence the state has against you as well what evidence is favorable to your side of the case. Sometimes the prosecution takes certain liberties with evidence, testimonies and witnesses. The Florida Sex Crimes Attorneys at Whittel & Melton can defend your rights vigorously by challenging evidence and witness statements brought forth by the state. Our staff will work tirelessly to collect favorable evidence for your case, including alibis, phone records and work records, so before you admit anything to police or prosecutors speak with us first.
Sometimes a plea negotiation can be an important factor for those charged with sex crimes cases that carry serious consequences, like the charges this woman faced – unlawful sexual activity with a minor. Any person convicted of unlawful sexual activity with a minor faces a maximum prison sentence of 15 years along with mandatory registration as a sex offender. A plea bargain could mean pleading guilty to a lesser offense so that a serious crime is dropped. In certain cases, like the one mentioned here, an agreement can possibly be made for counseling along with a lesser sentence. The effectiveness of plea bargains amount to facts specific to your case and the thoroughness of your lawyer. Contact Whittel & Melton today for a free case evaluation before you make any decisions that could affect your future and your freedom.
If you have been charged with unlawful sexual activity with a minor in Duval County or elsewhere throughout the state of Florida, contact the Florida Sex Crimes Defense Attorneys at Whittel & Melton online or dial our Jacksonville office statewide and toll-free at 1-866-608-5LAW (5529).
The staff was very attentive and answered all my questions regarding my criminal case. I was very pleased with the outcome and professionalism. Crystal Vasquez
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