Andrew Hamm: the Bipolar Express

Ruminations on theatre, music, and just about anything else that crosses my bipolar brain.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Unattractive Teacher Gets 10 Years for Sex with Student

A 35-year-old sixth grade science teacher convicted of having sex with a 13-year-old student has been sentenced to 10 years in prison. Here's the AP story.

So once again, the American judicial system has laid down the law. Under no circumstances is it acceptable for a teacher to have sexual relations with a student. Unless, of course, you're a cute chick. Men and unattractive women will get the maximum punishment.

Amber Jennings had her charges reduced from sex with a minor to disseminating harmful materials to a minor. Apparently all she did was email nude photos of herself to the student. That's not harmful, right? Because she's hot.

Margaret De Barraicua pled guilty to four counts of statutory rape after having sex with a 16-year-old special education student in her car. Parked behind an elementary school. With her two-year-old strapped in a car seat. One year of jail, five years' probation. Not hot exactly, but she certainly isn't unattractive.

Nicole Long was caught having sex with a 17-year-old boy while she was seven months pregrant. After pleading guilty to sexual battery, she was sentenced to three months in prison. Look at those adorable schoolmarm glasses! She looks kind of like one of my college girlfriends.

Everybody loves Debra Lafave, who was arrested for several counts of having sex with a 14-year-old. Her lawyer argued, "To place Debbie into a Florida state women's penitentiary, to place an attractive young woman in that kind of hell hole, is like putting a piece of raw meat in with the lions." The charges were dropped by the prosecution despite the fact that the judge had refused to accept details of the plea bargain and had indeed set a trial date. She got three months of house arrest and seven years of probation.

But America's real statutory sweetheart is Mary Kay Latourneau, right? She did jail time for having sex with a sixth grader, was released early for good behavior, then was caught in a steamed-up car with the same student. Sent back to prison for the original 7 years, she discovered she was pregnant with his second child, her sixth! (Dramatic music sting!) The boy always insisted that he was not a victim and that he loved Mary Kay. After serving her full sentence, she and her star-crossed wacky lover got married at a winery near Seattle. Entertainment Tonight paid for full access. No joke.

(In Washington, statutory rape is called "child rape." I like Washington.)

Change the genders in all these cases and you would see America's blood boil. It would be a national outrage, like the ongoing investigations into sexual abuse by Catholic priests. (Except, of course, for the fact that studies show that teachers molesting students massively dwarfs the risk of clergy molestation.) Somehow we have decided that if the adult in this transaction has a penis, it's more harmful and traumatic, as if penetration alone constitutes an act of abuse. And we certainly worship at the altar of beauty in this culture; there seems to be a very strong sentiment towards winking and saying, "I wish my hot teacher had been that cool when I was in high school."

Rape is always rape. Abuse is always abuse. Molestation is always molestation. The boys that these women are taking advantage of will be dealing with the effects of this in every interpersonal transaction for the rest of their lives. Innocence, once lost (or in these cases stolen), can not ever be returned. Trust betrayed is often irreparable. There is nothing "cool" or "sexy" about any kind of child rape. Unless, of course, the abuser is a hot woman and you're a TV executive. God, sometimes I just can't believe the unholy bargains we make to get money in this country.

So it's unfortunate for 35-year-old Rachel Holt, the woman in the headline, that she's not more attractive. Entertainment Tonight will not follow her every move, and her name will not become a household word. There's just no way to spin 28 counts of rape unless you've got the face and/or figure of a Playboy centerfold. Maybe that explains why Holt received a 10-year sentence where the average in similar cases is less than two.

In 2005, Angela Comer brought her 14-year-old "boyfriend" to Mexico where she planned to marry him. She also brought her 3-year-old son along for the trip. Her case hasn't yet been decided, so we may have a chance to get this one right. Then again, look at her picture. She just looks so adorable!

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  • At 3/18/2007 1:41 PM , Blogger Joey Fanelli said...

    I think that they pointed out the same thing on The View a wile back, about how the good looking teachers get off easy and the not-so-good looking ones really get the shit thrown at them.

    I can't remember why the hell I was watching the View.

  • At 3/19/2007 3:25 AM , Blogger Paperboy said...

    I went to Music School with this guy. We had some problems with him hitting on potential students when he was on the recruiting committee. We worked together at the same theatre summer camp and he got into a bit of trouble after having worked there for several summers the higher-ups got wise to the fact that he was hitting up on the good looking boys.
    I really disliked the guy, but had to be around him a great deal at times because we were both in the same 50 student program. I would have trouble pissing on him if he were on fire.
    After getting his third "F" in Music History I, (All three failures were as a result of getting caught cheating, but as each semester was taught by a different professor, who saw each event as an isolated incident, it was swept under the rug.) he left the program to get his Music Education Degree at a nearby university.
    He then got a job as a band director at an area private school, where he promptly began feeling up a certain student during private lessons. After a while the kid reports this to his father, the cop. And we are off to the races.
    He goes up on three counts of child fondling. He gets the Maximum sentence in the State Of Mississippi--30 years, plus 3 years for the Child porn they found on his computer.
    He is both black and male, but he never actually slept with a kid (That we know of.)
    Meanwhile, in the same week, Arkansas, gives a teacher who repeatedly slept with her student 7 years.
    Now while I think that the guy I am talking about deserves his time and more for prior bad acts that I know about, he was not convicted of those acts. In the eyes of the law they never happened. That is cool.
    I just think the crimes that he was convicted of, amounted to less than actual sex with a student.
    Perhaps I am crazy. Or perhaps it is just that the judge in the case is Hang 'em High Jim Kitchens who is the same judge who sentenced a 13 year old to life in prison in the murder of his brother-in-law at the behest of his sister.

    I think the main problem is that these largely male judges remember the teacher that they had a crush on in High School. (Mine was Ms Kennedy, who I could be teaching with next year.) The Judges are thinking to themselves, if only Ms Kennedy would have taken me out to her car after school...that would have been AWESOME!
    It is a travesty that should be addressed. We have judges to give a human face to the law, that is why they (appropriately) have discretion on a case by case basis. This, however is a screaming example weakness in the system.

  • At 3/19/2007 10:40 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    This is a very serious problem and you are 100% right Andrew. It does NOT matter if the child thinks it’s cool at the time and is consenting. They are a CHILDREN and therefore do not understand the full ramifications and how it might effect them later in life. Sadly I have first hand experience with this. I was a young girl (16) working in an all male (I was the first female they had ever hired) men’s shoe store when my boss (who was 10 years my senior and married) hit up on me. He was cute and funny and said all the right things to me and somehow I got caught up in the thrill of it. Thankfully we never slept together (somehow I woke up before that happened and saw him for the scum he was), but I have to tell you that to this day it makes my blood boil to think about how much I was manipulated by this adult. I lost a piece of my innocence and was manipulated into a very adult situation before I was ready to make that choice AS AN ADULT. Anyone who does this deserves jail time. They are child molesters…pure and simple!


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