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Former schoolteacher, who is also a beauty pageant winner, sentenced for sex crimes

| Jul 21, 2020 | sex crimes |

A beauty queen who admitted to exchanging sexual photos with a teenage student when she was working as a schoolteacher has been sentenced to prison.

The former Miss Kentucky was sentenced to two years in jail. She was also sentenced to an additional 10 years of supervised release and must register as a sex offender for life.

She pleaded guilty to one count of possessing material depicting minors in sexually explicit conduct in December 2019, news outlets reported.

She was initially charged with four counts of sending obscene material to a minor.

The woman is also a former middle school educator. Authorities said she admitted to exchanging photos with a student on Snapchat for several months. A parent of the male student reported finding the images on the teen’s phone, news outlets said.

The woman testified that she meant to send a photo to her husband, but accidentally sent it to the teen. She claimed the student asked for additional photos, so she continued to send them because she was “afraid to not appease him.”

While this incident happened in another state, Maryland has several laws that criminalize engaging in sexual behavior with a child. There are also specific sex crime laws in Maryland aimed at teachers and other school employees. Although the age of consent in Maryland is 16, it is a criminal offense under Maryland law for teachers and school employees over the age of 21 to engage in sexual activity with school students under the age of 18 who are under the authority of the school official.

Penalties for Inappropriate Teacher/Student Contact

There are several punishments for school workers who are convicted of engaging in a sex crime in Maryland.

Teachers or other school employees who engage in sexual activities with students can be sentenced to up to one year in jail, a fine of up to $1,000 or both jail and a fine. Second convictions are punishable by up to three years in prison. People in Maryland who are convicted of subsequent crimes involving sex with underage children may be sentenced to life imprisonment.

In addition to possible jail time and fines, people who are convicted of statutory rape and related crimes are required to register as sex offenders for at least 15 years. In some instances, sex crime offenders must stay on the registry even longer — for 25 years or for the length of their life. Most offenses carry the responsibility to register every three or six months. In addition to the Maryland state database, the names of all registered sex offenders are also kept in a federal sex offender database.

Teachers also face the loss of their license to teach if they are convicted of a sex crime.

Defenses

In Maryland, as in most states, the fact that the defendant mistakenly believed the child to be of age is not a defense to statutory rape or a similar sex crime. For example, even if the child is underage and lied about his or her age to the defendant and others, that is no defense to this type of crime.

When charged with a Maryland sex crime, the state has the responsibility to prove that defendants are guilty beyond a reasonable doubt; but sex crimes are not popular, and jurors are likely to have preconceived notions.

An Ocean City criminal defense sex crimes lawyer can help you with your Ocean City sex crimes charge. An experienced Baltimore sex crimes attorney can go over the facts of your case to determine the best defense, including whether the Baltimore sex crime charges can be reduced or dismissed. The consultation is free.

The Law Office of Thomas J. Maronick is open during the pandemic and will continue to meet your Ocean City and surrounding areas, Baltimore city and Baltimore county legal needs. We can meet with you remotely if you have access to Zoom. You can contact Thomas Maronick on his cellphone at 410-885-1775, the law office at 410-885-1775 or via our website for a free consultation.

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