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Female teacher, 31, who slept with teenage boy avoids jail

Female teacher, 31, who slept with teenage boy avoids jail

The judge called into question whether the teen had actually been harmed.

An Australian school teacher who had sex with a 'vulnerable' 16-year-old boy in the back of her car has been spared jail.

Monique Ooms, 31, pled guilty to four counts of sexual penetration of a child under her care at Latrobe Valley County Court in Victoria.

The teacher was facing a maximum of 10 years behind bars.

She was told today (10 March) that she would not spend any time behind bars, despite previously facing a maximum penalty of 10 years in jail.

The child, who had recently lost a close friend in a fatal car crash, met his teacher in the middle of the night for sex and was described as being in a 'vulnerable situation emotionally'.

In his sentencing, Judge Smallwood, who was experienced in these types of cases, questioned whether the boy had actually been harmed by his liaison with his teacher because he was over 16.

"Often in these situations, the harm is what comes from other people after it becomes public," he said.

The judge then suggested that the boy did consent to the activity and was close to being 17 at the time it took place.

The judged questioned whether the teen had actually been harmed by his teacher.

"There has clearly been discussion between he and her about the wrongfulness of it. He nevertheless consents and makes that very clear," the judge said.

"He being very close to 17... does that go to in any way, shape or form the objective seriousness of the offending?"

Judge Smallwood concluded that since he did not know of any other comparable cases, he decided against jailing the teacher because of the 'sheer fragility' of her mental health.

"I don't want there to be any accidents when it's not necessary if you understand what I'm saying," he said.

The judge explained that in this case, the offence was not that Ooms had sex with the boy - in Australia, the age of consent varies between 16 and 17 - but the fact that she was his teacher.

The teenager himself declined to discuss his relationship with his teacher when offered counselling by police, Crown Prosecutor Andrew Moore told the court.

"There's no definitive evidence of harm, but it is of course a notorious fact that in these sorts of cases - sexual offending against minors - harm doesn't surface sometimes until a little bit later and sometimes decades later," he said.

This prompted the judge to question whether the teen was a minor.

"You use the word minor. Is he?" Judge Smallwood questioned. "I mean I don't know. They are the matters I'm worried about."

Ooms was accused of preying on her pupil when he was vulnerable.

The teacher was accused of preying on her pupil after his friend's death.

The pair kissed, then discussed how wrong it was, before they went on to have sex at least four times over the coming weeks.

Katherine Rolfe, the teacher's barrister, also argued for leniency as she lost her job and endured 'public shame'.

This saw her involuntarily admitted to a psychiatric ward after a suicide attempt and ideation.

While the teenager refused to take part in court proceedings against his teacher, his mum read out a witness statement where she said she feared for his future and how he was going to move past the relationship.

Ooms was due to be sentenced today (10 March), but this has been postponed to allow the prosecution time to check if any similar cases have been heard in the Court of Appeal.

Featured Image Credit: Facebook

Topics: Australia