Female teacher jailed over affair
Reuters, USA, Thursday, May 5, 2005
SYDNEY, Australia (Reuters) -- An Australian female teacher has been jailed for six months for having sex with a teenage student, with a warning from the judge that future offenders could not expect such "lenient" treatment.
Karen Louise Ellis, a 37-year-old physical education teacher, had earlier received a suspended sentence of 22 months after she pleaded guilty to six counts of sexual penetration with a boy aged under 16.
But the Supreme Court of Victoria's Court of Appeal in Melbourne upheld an appeal by prosecutors against the leniency of that sentence, saying that mother-of-three Ellis should have been sentenced to two years' jail on each of the counts.
Justice Frank Callaway instead imposed a new sentence of two years and eight months. He sent Ellis to jail for six months and suspended the balance of the new sentence for three years.
"This was not a foolish lapse on one occasion that was not repeated. There were six counts and two distinct periods of offending," Callaway said in a written judgment.
He said that "a like offender in the future could not expect the same leniency."
"Men and women are to be treated on their merits and not according to their sex and ... the law is concerned to protect all children from abuse, especially from those in a position of power, authority or trust," Callaway said.
Local media reported that Ellis burst into tears as she was led from the court.
"She's pretty devastated, we're all devastated," Ellis's lawyer Chester Metcalfe told reporters outside the court. "She's taking it pretty hard at the moment, as you can expect."
The original trial had heard that Ellis, then 36, began seeing the boy, identified only as Benjamin, in late 2003.
She first had sex with him in her suburban Melbourne home on October 10 of that year, after which she drove Benjamin, then 15, to a nearby railway station.
A similar pattern was repeated another five times in October and November of that year until the boy's mother saw him getting out of Ellis' car on November 23 and became suspicious.
The court heard the boy had failed school that year and had since become estranged from his family.
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