A Sedgwick County judge on Thursday sentenced a former Wichita Public Schools middle school teacher to 5 years, 8 months in prison for sexually abusing one of her seventh-grade students in 2018 and 2019.
Christin N. Covel pleaded no contest in February to two counts of aggravated indecent solicitation of a child. As previously reported, Covel was accused of grooming and molesting the then 13-year-old girl in her classroom at Mead Middle School, during and after school and on at least one field trip.
'You Spending Time with Him...Wanting Him. Not Wanting Me'
She also swapped nearly 10,000 Snapchat messages with the girl, whom she viewed as her lover, according to a probable cause affidavit released by the court.
In one message, Covel appeared to guilt the girl for spending time with a boy, writing: "you spending time with him. Hugging him. Kissing him. Sending him stuff. Recess. Lunch. Classes. Forgetting about me. Wanting him. Not wanting me."
Covel worked at Mead Middle School from 2015 until July 2020. She was teaching at Thomas Edison Preparatory Middle & High School in Tulsa, Oklahoma, when authorities arrested her in January 2022.
Covel Arrested After Student Opened Up About the Abuse During Therapy
Covel was arrested last year after the girl talked about the abuse in a therapy session when she was 16, according to the affidavit.
Prosecutors originally charged Covel with three counts of aggravated indecent liberties with a child under 14 and one count of unlawful sexual relations. An aggravated indecent liberties conviction could have landed her in prison for life.
Instead, she'll serve the 68-month sentence and then be subject to lifetime post-release supervision. The prison portion of her sentence can be reduced by up to 15% for good behavior.
Judge Seth Rundle ordered Covel, who now lives in Oklahoma, to surrender to the Sedgwick County Jail by 9 a.m. Monday. She has been free on bond since shortly after her arrest.
Covel's lawyer had asked Rundle to place her on probation for three years instead of imposing a prison sentence. But the judge refused, saying the prison term was not only an appropriate punishment in this case but would also be a general deterrent for teachers or other adults who might consider abusing a child.