Teacher Who Had Sex With Pupil ‘Should Get Off Easy Because He Wanted It’, Lawyer Claims

Teacher faces up to ten years in prison.Volusia County Sheriff's Office/Facebook

The legal team for a teacher who confessed to having sex with her 14-year-old pupil have argued she should receive a lighter sentence as her victim was a ‘willing participant’.

27-year-old Stephanie Peterson from Florida pleaded guilty in October 2018 to the charges of lewd and lascivious battery sex act with a minor as well as the electronic transmission of material harmful to minors.

Peterson admitted to having had sex with the victim inside her car. She also confessed to having given him oral sex both in her home and inside a barn, with the abuse taking place between November 2017 and January 2018.

As part of her plea deal, the former eighth grade teacher will serve between five and 10 years in prison. If Peterson had been convicted of these felonies at trial, she could have been set to spend up to 20 years behind bars.

As reported by The Daytona Beach News-Journal, Peterson’s defence attorneys, Aaron Delgado and William Hathaway, have argued for the disgraced former teacher to serve less than the minimum five year sentence.

One of the reasons given for this was that the victim – who was 14 years old at the time of the abuse – was a ‘willing participant’.

However, Stetson College of Law Professor Charlie Rose advised The Daytona Beach News-Journal how the age of consent in Florida is 18, therefore the victim had not reached the age of legal consent:

The child is below the age of legal consent for sexual activity with an adult so the fact that they were a willing participant, in my mind, is actually an escalator.

It’s an indication that perhaps the child was manipulated into engaging in sexual activity. It does not make the crime less culpable.

At the time Peterson was arrested, the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office released a statement explaining how Peterson had pressured her victim into keeping the abuse a secret:

The relationship is believed to have started in November. A detective responded to the victim’s family’s home Tuesday after the student disclosed the relationship to his parents.

The student, an 8th grader, told detectives Peterson would send him nude photos. He said she started coming to his home at night, picking him up around 11 p.m. on several occasions and bringing him back around 1 or 2 a.m.

The victim reported that Peterson told him they couldn’t tell anyone about their relationship or they’d get in trouble. He also said she bought him marijuana and bowls for smoking it, and his grades suffered after their relationship started.

The sexual abuse was uncovered after another teacher contacted the pupil’s parents to see if he would like mentoring.

After joking about whether he was being groomed, the parents became worried when their son cried and stated: ‘Anyone could molest you.’

If you’ve been affected by any of these issues, and want to speak to someone in confidence regarding the welfare of a child contact the NSPCC on 0808 800 5000. If you are a child seeking advice and support call Childline for free on 0800 1111.

If you have a story you want to tell send it to UNILAD via [email protected]