Having a sexual relationship with an underage student is a shocking exploitation of the power struggle between adults and children.
In some cases, they involve principals, gym teachers and counselors. What these well-known cases all share in common is an attractive young female teacher being accused of committing crimes involving the children they are responsible for.
The world was stunned earlier this week, when Rochelle Cressman pleaded guilty to repeatedly sexually assaulting a 14-year-old student for seven months. Cressman appeared in court on Tuesday, November 10, on three counts of statutory sexual assault with a teenager.
As the case unfolded in court, Pennsylvania State Police revealed that the sexual relationship was, indeed, initiated by the adult, who continuously abused the unidentified boy from September 2018 through April 2019.
Cressman is not alone in committing acts of sexual deviance with underage children. From Mary Kay Letourneau to Pamela Smart, here are a handful of horrific crimes that have played out for the world to see.
OK! takes a look at teachers who put their moral compass aside to have sex with their students.
Former Pennsylvania middle school gym teacher Cressman pleaded guilty to repeatedly sexually assaulting a 14-year-old student for seven months. Cressman appeared in court on Tuesday, November 10, on three counts of statutory sexual assault with a teenager, with each one not only including a $25,000 fine but also a hefty sentence of 20 years in prison. Their encounters — which took place between September 2018 and April 2019 — happened twice a week at her former homes in Oil Creek Township and Titusville. According to the Times Observer, Cressman had threatened the child not to tell anyone about their secret get-togethers otherwise she was going to hurt herself and him if anyone found out. The boy decided to keep quiet but things had eventually gotten out to the teen’s parents.
The Meadville Tribune added that the victim’s mother had uncovered her son’s relationship with his teacher, and she immediately contacted authorities to start an investigation. When her son was quizzed about his involvement with Cressman, he said they had sex at least 10 times and also shared other sexual encounters.
Mary Kay Letourneau
Letourneau was 34 and married when she began her relationship with 12-year-old student Vili Fualaau in 1996. In a 2015 interview with Barbara Walters, Letourneau said, "The incident was a late night that didn't stop with a kiss. I thought that it would and it didn't." Police found Letourneau and Fualaau in a minivan parked at the Des Moines Marina, where the sixth-grade teacher lied to police and said that the boy was 18. She was soon arrested for second-degree child rape. Not long after, she found out she was pregnant with Fualaau’s child. Letourneau pleaded guilty to child rape in exchange for a three-month jail sentence and probation. The judge approved the plea bargain on condition that Letourneau had no contact with Fualaau.
After she was released from prison, she was caught with Fuaulaau and arrested on a parole violation. When she got out of jail, Fualaau, who was 21 at the time, filed a motion in court to reverse the no-contact order against Letourneau. The judge granted the request and the pair tied the knot in 2005. The couple officially divorced in 2019. Letourneau died after a lengthy battle with colon cancer earlier this year and left her estranged ex-husband everything in her estate.
Lafave was a Florida teacher who became notorious after having an affair with a 14-year-old student. According to the New York Daily News, Lafave pled guilty in 2005 to at least four sexual encounters with one of her middle school students a year before. She was married at the time of the scandal. She faced up to 30 years in prison but her attorney said "to place Debbie into a Florida state women's penitentiary," adding, "to place an attractive young woman in that kind of hellhole, is like putting a piece of raw meat in with the lions."
Due to her victim not wanting to stand trial, Lafave pleaded guilty to two counts of lewd and lascivious battery and got off with house arrest and probation. She later sued the state of Florida to have her parole ended and won. Lafave was able to end her probation early in 2014.
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Smart was a media coordinator at a high school in New Hampshire where she met 15-year-old Billy Flynn. Smart led a program that was meant to help teenagers cope with sex and drug abuse. The then 22-year-old Smart and Flynn started having an affair. Allegedly, Smart convinced Flynn to kill her husband, Gregg Smart.
Flynn and three of his friends killed Gregg in 1990 while his wife was at a board meeting. According to the New York Post, Flynn’s friend Patrick “Pete” Randall held a knife to Gregg's throat while Flynn shot him in the head. Smart has admitted to seducing Flynn, but has always claimed her innocence regarding the murder of her husband. Flynn and his friends have all been released from prison after cutting deals to testify against Smart. The trial inspired the Joyce Maynard novel To Die For, which was made into a film starring Nicole Kidman and Matt Dillon.
Zamora was a sixth-grade teacher in Goodyear, Ariz., when she was accused of sexual misconduct with a 13-year-old boy, including oral sex in a classroom and car. The teenagers parent's found out about the illicit affair through an app on the boy's cell phone. Zamora was sentenced to 20 years in prison. "I am a good and genuine person who made a mistake and regret it deeply," she told the judge during her sentencing. "I lived my life respecting and trying to obey every law. I'm not a threat to society."
According to AZ Central, Zamora is accused of having sex with the male student on three different occasions. "The two also exchanged sexually explicit text messages," according to the outlet. Zamora is also accused of sending the boy nude photos of herself.
Vera was a 24-year-old English teacher in Texas when she was accused of sexually assaulting one of her 13-year-old students, according to the Houston Chronicle. Police accused Vera of becoming pregnant with the teenager's child and having an abortion to hide the affair. She allegedly told police that she was in love with the boy.
Vera was sentenced to 10 years in prison. She had claimed that "the boy's parent accepted the relationship," according to the Daily Mail. A therapist told the court that Vera was influenced by a family history of domestic violence and felt she was truly in love with the young child.
Melody Suzanne Lippert & Michelle Louise Ghirelli
The two California high school teachers were convicted of having underage sex with a male student during a drug-fueled camping trip in 2014. According to KTLA, Lippert and Ghirelli went on a three-day camping trip with five of their students. The trip was organized by Lippert and was not approved by the school. Ghirelli supplied alcohol and cocaine to the teens and had sexual relations with a 17-year-old student, which was facilitated by Lippert.
Lippert pleaded guilty to one felony count of unlawful sexual intercourse and was sentenced to three years of formal probation and three months in jail. Ghirelli pleaded guilty to one felony count of unlawful sexual intercourse and one felony count of furnishing a controlled substance and was sentenced to three years formal probation and 180 days in jail.