No jail over Tas teacher aide's sex abuse

A former teacher's aide who sexually abused an underage past student has avoided going to jail.
A former teacher's aide who sexually abused an underage past student has avoided going to jail.

A former teacher's aide in Tasmania who breached her position of trust and sexually abused an underage past student has received a suspended jail sentence.

The woman, who was 43 at time, had sex with the 16-year-old boy in her car earlier this year after arranging to meet up when he contacted her.

In sentencing remarks published on Friday, Justice Alan Blow said the woman developed a friendship with the boy when she worked at the school and he was in Year 10.

The pair stayed in touch after the boy left for another education institution but their messaging stopped for several months.

Justice Blow said the boy was apparently egged on by mates at a party to contact the woman on a night in March. Unbeknown to her, the boy filmed the acts on his phone and sent it to his friends.

The judge described the consequences for the woman as extreme, noting she had to resign from her job and explain herself to family and friends.

"I do not need to tell you how inappropriate this was," Justice Blow said.

"Laws in relation to sex with minors exist for their protection because they usually are not mature enough to make good choices about sexual activity. That was exactly the situation here."

Justice Blow said the woman was in control of the situation and should not have let it happen.

"You knew that, and you know it now. You took advantage of a friendship that developed because of your role in a position of authority as a teacher's aide," he said.

"You breached the trust placed in you by the school authorities, even though this was a former student."

Justice Blow said the boy became very embarrassed, withdrew from school and was very regretful he lost his virginity to someone a generation older.

The woman pleaded guilty to penetrative sexual abuse of a young person and was sentenced to five months' jail wholly suspended on the condition she does not commit a crime for two years.

Justice Blow said the woman was going through a bad time and was at a low ebb emotionally after her marriage ended.

"Although this was a serious crime, I do not think it would be appropriate to send you to prison," he said.

"You have no prior convictions of the slightest significance. You have family responsibilities and you are extremely remorseful.

"(A wholly suspended sentence) ... should send a powerful message to you, and to others, as to how serious this sort of conduct is.

"Often people in the community do not regard a suspended sentence as much of a punishment, but the courts certainly do."

Australian Associated Press