A female teacher who admitted to having sex with a 16-year-old student in the backseat of her car will avoid jail as the judge said there was "no evidence" of harm to the teenager.
Monique Ooms pleaded guilty at Latrobe Valley County Court in the state of Victoria, Australia, this week to four counts of sexual penetration of a child under her supervision and care.
Teen was 'Vulnerable' After Losing Close Friend in Crash
The court heard that Ooms, 31, would pick up the teenage boy in her car late at night and drive him to remote locations so they could have sex. Prosecutors said that the teenager had been in a "vulnerable situation emotionally" after losing a close friend in a car crash when the affair began.
The boy had started chatting with his teacher about his feelings regarding the loss of his friend over social media and text messages, and it wasn't long before Ooms was texting her student photos of herself in her underwear.
Ooms Admitted to the Inappropriate Relationship
In July last year the pair shared their first kiss and discussed all the things that were wrong with what had occurred. The next time they met the pair had sex in the back of Ooms' car while parked in a forest at night.
The court heard Ooms had sex with her student at least four times over the next few weeks in the backseat of her car before arranging hook-ups at her home. Ooms' inappropriate relationship with her then student was discovered when someone wrote two letters to the school principal, who promptly alerted police.
While Ooms initially attempted to deny her antics, she eventually confessed to police after she was duped into making admissions to a friend via text message.The court heard when asked 'You did actually do it, didn't ya?' she responded 'Yeah'.
Judge Says No Harm as Sex was Consensual, Cites Ooms' 'Fragile Mental State'
Judge Smallwood said that despite the youngster being 16, he could not be considered a child, and was satisfied that the boy had consented to the sexual activity. The legal age of consent in Victoria is 16 years.
"There has clearly been discussion between he and her about the wrongfulness of it. He nevertheless consents and makes that very clear," he said, before noting, "The offence isn't the penetration, it's doing it while a teacher."
'He being very close to 17 ... does that go to in any way, shape or form the objective seriousness of the offending?'
"There's no definitive evidence of harm, but it is of course a notorious fact that in these sorts of cases - sexual offending against minors - harm doesn't surface sometimes until a little bit later and sometimes decades later," the judge said.
The offence carries a potential sentence of 10 years behind bars. But the judge, taking Ooms' "fragile mental state" into account, decided against a custodial sentence.'I don't want there to be any accidents when it's not necessary if you understand what I'm saying,' he said. Ooms lost her teaching certificate as a result of the case, and is currently working as a bricklayer.