KENNEWICK, Wash. – A Washington State 14-year-old who sent sexually explicit pictures and videos to his former teacher will spend 10 days in juvenile detention, two years on probation, and is now a registered sex offender.
The Kennewick middle school student was sentenced Wednesday in Benton County Juvenile Court to 80 days of detention after previously pleading guilty to dealing in depictions of minors engaging in sex acts and cyberstalking, the Tri-City Herald reports.
“Court Commissioner Jerri Potts granted the boy’s request for a Special Sex Offender Disposition Alternative, meaning he will do two years of probation focused on sex offender therapy and will have to register as a sex offender,” according to the news site.
Potts also ordered the teen to serve 10 days of detention, and warned that the court would impose the remaining days on the 80-day sentence if he does not satisfactorily complete the sex offender program.
Potts said it’s critical the student does not “just go through the motions” of the program.
The boy’s former teacher reported to police late last year that she received 15 Facebook messages from the teen, who used his first name and provided a cell phone contact number.
“He tried to get the teacher’s attention by attaching naked pictures and videos of himself, including one showing a lewd act with a dog,” according to documents cited by the Herald.
The teacher told police she rarely checks her Facebook messages and didn’t notice the teen’s advances until late in 2015. She said she didn’t watch the videos, KHQ reports.
The teacher wrote in a letter to Deputy Prosecutor Sheri Miller that the messages reduced her from “a highly educated individual to a sex object,” and she “finally accepted reality that I had been violated as both a caring teacher and a women,” according to the Herald.
The educator also had a message for her cyberstalker student: “This mistake doesn’t have to define you if you do the work it will take to change your perspective,” she wrote.
The student seems to be taking the message to heart. His attorney, Laura Mapes, told the court the boy is “naturally feeling embarrassed” by his actions and the court case.
“At first I didn’t think through it,” the student told Potts, “but now that I’m going thorough this I regret what I’ve done because it is not a normal thing for a teenager to do.”
Online commenters expressed mixed reactions to the case.
“That’s it?” Brenelsa Faustinia Tiburcio posted to Facebook. “A teacher would have been arrested; placed in a jail cell; lost her job; lost her teacher’s certification and banned from ever teaching again. This kid gets therapy. Something isn’t right.”
“Therapy required,” Jamie Sime-Yardley wrote, “prayers.”
“Therapy? No. No,” James Cluck countered. “Locked box!”