Rebecca Sparrow sentencing: Former Cuyahoga Falls guidance counselor acknowledges betraying position of authority and power in sleeping with ‘mentally unstable’ student.
A former high school guidance counselor who pleaded guilty to sleeping with a 17-year-old student apologized in an Ohio courtroom on Monday, acknowledging her ‘betrayal and broken trust’ before being sentenced to two years in prison.
Rebecca Sparrow, a 37-year-old former counselor at Cuyahoga Falls High School, made an emotional apology to the student and his relatives before Summit County Common Pleas Judge Amy Corrigall Jones after pleading guilty to one count of sexual battery in November, the Columbus Dispatch reports.
‘I’m so sorry for my betrayal and broken trust,’ Sparrow, a mother of two who recently divorced, told the court. ‘You all expected more from me — and I let you down.’
Sparrow, who had faced up to five years behind bars, admitted that the illicit relationship with the teen upended her family and her attending weekly counseling sessions.
‘I know no words can heal the pain I’ve caused,’ Sparrow said.
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Assistant Prosecutor Felicia Easter said Sparrow knew that the student — who is now 20 — had ongoing issues at home prior to their sexual relationship, including his parents’ divorce, suicidal thoughts that followed and his ‘fragile’ mental state.
Sparrow also told the teen on more than one occasion that she would lose her job and likely go to jail if their actions were exposed to school officials, whom she lied to several times about the relationship, Easter said.
‘She fully understood what she was doing and the wrongfulness, and continued to do it — over and over and over,’ Easter said.
Police in Bath Township said the sexual relationship between Sparrow and the teen took place between February and May 2016. Sparrow was then placed on administrative leave in January 2018 before she later resigned, WJW reports.
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Sparrow’s attorney, meanwhile, argued that the former counselor deserved probation rather than prison time, citing her lack of a criminal record and several letters of support submitted to the court. The former student also didn’t think Sparrow deserved prison time, attorney Mike Callahan told Jones.
‘He has had time to reflect on what happened, how this affects him, and it is his belief she should not be incarcerated,’ Callahan told the judge.
But Jones was unmoved by that version of events and sentenced Sparrow to two years in prison, calling her conduct ‘perverse’ and noting that probation department officials found her to be a moderate risk for reoffending given her attraction to teenage males.
‘As difficult as this is, you exploited a vulnerable child and your behavior was perverse,’ Jones said.
The judge also designated Sparrow as a Tier 3 sex offender, meaning she’ll be required to register her address with sheriff’s officials every 90 days for the rest of her life.
But Sparrow will apply for an early release from prison in as little as six months, Callahan said.
‘I know she was remorseful with probation, with me and with the court,’ he told the judge. ‘This has taken a great toll on her and her family.’