Susan Duursma, a 35-year-old mom of one and former physical education teacher in Bismarck, North Dakota, who admitted earlier this year that she had sex with a 9th-grade boy, will not be required to register as a sex offender, a judge decided. But Duursma will be required to spend 60 days in jail.
Duursma, who resigned her job as a gym teacher at Wachter High School in Bismarck in February, pleaded guilty in May to a felony child abuse charge. In a brief to the court in March, Duursma’s lawyers described her as “a broken, vulnerable, battered recovering alcoholic woman,” who was “bagged” by the victim and two of his high school athlete friends.
The boys “lured” the then-34-year-old teacher into “their web of deceit, deception and degradation,” the brief said, also alleging that the boys made an audio recording of Duursma meeting the boy in a car as the two other boys hid in the back seat. The alleged recording did not capture a sexual encounter, however.
But the victim’s father addressed Duursma directly at her sentencing on Wednesday, telling her she “preyed” on his son, who was “innocent” before the encounters with Duursma.
Judge Bruce Romanick also told Duursma that her relationship with the boy was a predatory one.
Duursma was accused of engaging in three separate sexual encounters with the 15-year-old, once in her home and twice in her car, in May and July of 2013.
July was also the month she divorced her husband of four years, Bruce Bowerman, an amateur bodybuilder.
Duursma had a prior, albeit minor, criminal record, with an assault charge in 2007 and a reckless driving and leaving the scene of an accident charge in 2010.
The victim’s father requested that Duursma not be required to register as a sex offender because if the judge imposed that requirement, she would have withdrawn her guilty plea. The father — who was not named publicly so as to shield the identity of his underage son — told Romanick that he simply wanted the case against Duursman to be concluded.
By pleading guilty to a child abuse charge, Duursma avoided the sex offender registration requirement, because child abuse in itself is not classified as a sexual offense.
Susan Duursma was also hit with a suspended six-year prison sentence and five years on probation.