A former school teacher from Florida in the United States has been sentenced to three years in prison for having sex with a 14-year-old student and sending him naked pictures of herself.
Twenty-seven-year-old Stephanie Peterson entered a guilty plea in October to one felony count of a lewd or lascivious sex act with a child, and another felony charge of transmission of harmful material to minors by electronic means.
The judge, Seventh Judicial Circuit Court Judge Paul Zambrano handed down the three-year sentence after a successful negotiation by
Stephanie Peterson ‘s defense, which managed to get the prosecution to agree to come down from the minimum sentence of five years that they had initially requested.
Prior to those discussions, Peterson had previously faced up to 10 years inside for the crimes.
The breakdown of the sentence means she will serve 36 months for the battery sex act felony, while the judge ruled that Peterson’s time was served for the harmful transmission crime.
On top of the custodial sentence she will also have to sign the sex offenders’ register for five years and spend two years under house arrest upon her release from prison.
During the court proceedings, the victim’s mother spoke to the court. In an emotional victim impact statement, she said: “I don’t think I will ever be able to put into words the devastation and sadness he has gone through.
“He is no longer the vibrant, funny, light-hearted child. He is now untrustworthy of new people, and even old friends.”
She also spoke of the damage that the ordeal had done to the victim’s mental health, as well as his struggles to make friends at high school following the events.
Given a chance to defend herself, Peterson said: “Every day I wish I could scream, ‘I’m sorry.’
“There are not enough words to describe the amount of remorse I feel for what had taken place.
“Sorry doesn’t even begin to sum up my emotions. I will continue to be sorry until the day I die.”
Peterson’s defence had argued that she has suffered with mental health issues, as well as self-medicating for those issues with drugs and alcohol.
In sentencing, Judge Zambrano said that she had not helped herself through self-medicating or by choosing to take alcohol and drugs.
He said: “Your actions have life-long consequences to you and to this child for the rest of his life.
“That memory will never be taken from him.”