Meredith Powell a former Tacoma, Washington High school math teacher was yesterday sentenced to 6 months jail after pleading guilty to two counts of third-degree child rape and one count of communicating with a minor for immoral purposes, all felonies. Charges that would all stem from the former teacher maintaining sexual relations with up to three male students.
In handing out his verdict, Pierce County Superior Court Judge Frank Cuthbertson believed Meredith Powell to be remorseful (would he have believed as much if the genders were reversed?) deciding to suspend all but six months of a five year sentence as well as ordering the former teacher into a sex offender program for first time offenders.
Powell cried after her sentencing and told the court she prays every day for the two teenage boys and is heartbroken at the suffering she has caused the boys and their families.
Told the teacher: ‘I feel like words can’t even express how sorry I am,’
‘I wish I could take back what happened to the students that I failed. Sorry doesn’t take away anything that happened, but I hope they can move forward with as little impact as possible.’
Powell would also tell that a series of problems, including molestation in her own youth, contributed to her behavior.
The judge, Frank Cuthbertson, in turn would remark that sentencing was difficult because Powell’s behavior was ‘out of character.’
Adding: ‘This is difficult, this is different, this is not what we usually see,’ the judge told Powell. ‘Everything suggests this is out of character for you. But again, you need to understand the severe impact that this has had not just on the victims but on their families.’
The families of the victims were upset by the short jail sentence.
One stormed out and several others cursed.
The attorney for Tacoma Public Schools, Shannon McMinimee, said the district was also disappointed by Powell’s sentence.
‘Ms. Powell repeatedly talked about letting her students down,’ she said after the hearing. ‘The reality is she committed child rape.’
Powell’s attorney Wayne Fricke told King5.com his client has shown remorse over what happened.
‘She was going through a difficult time in her personal life and obviously made a lot of bad choices, regrettable choices,’ said Fricke.
A fourth count of sexual misconduct of a minor would be dismissed.
Powell’s case first came to light after police learned of a letter the teacher wrote to one of the boy’s girlfriends apologizing for ‘promiscuous’ and ‘unprofessional’ drunken text messages she exchanged with one of the boys.
Powell would be subsequently arrested and placed on unpaid leave.
Investigations would determine that Meredith Powell had begun a relationship with the two students – who were between the ages of 15 and sixteen – in January of this year.
Powell told police the relationships began when she was intoxicated and sent a text to the students, saying they were ‘hot’, following back-and-forth communication.
Powell said she apologized to the students the next morning, and also sent a letter to one of the defendant’s girlfriends in an attempt to explain what happened.
Upon interviewing her victims, the boys told they had come to have sex with the teacher after she locked her classroom door ensuring the students were captive.
After further interviews with police, Meredith Powell would concede that she had indeed engaged in a sex act with one of the students and other sex acts with another at different times in late January.
Powell also sent at least one of the victims a Snapchat photo of her in the bathtub.
She told police she knew her actions were wrong, and that she would apologize to the student’s parents if she could.