Jennifer Caswell, a former middle school teacher from Oklahoma who admitted to having sex with a 15-year-old student, has been sentenced to 15 years in prison.
According to the Huffington Post, five of those years will be suspended, but some are saying the sentence is shockingly harsh. While Jennifer Caswell did have sex with an underage student, it was consensual, classifying it as second-degree rape. Jennifer Caswell pleaded guilty to three counts of the charge, as well as two counts of enticing a child and one count of forcible sodomy.
“I can’t say that we had ever considered it being that harsh,” said Caswell’s attorney, David Cummins, according to News OK. “It was somewhere in the neighborhood of at least twice what we anticipated.”
The sentences for her six crimes will be run at the same time, but that will still keep Jennifer Caswell behind bars for roughly a decade.
Many people have pointed out that the sentence for Jennifer is especially dire when compared to Mary Kay Letourneau, a teacher who was convicted for having sex with a 12-year-old student. Despite the younger victim, Letourneau received a much more lenient sentence.
“I’m not a predator,” Jennifer Caswell told Dr. Phil on television. “I’m not a danger to anyone.”
She also revealed that the 15-year-old boy made advances on her, which she fell victim to because her husband had been ignoring her.
“I didn’t force anything. I didn’t manipulate. I didn’t take advantage,” she said.
Jennifer Caswell described how exactly the student came onto her, admitting she gave in to the boy fairly quickly.
“He came in. I was working on things. He kept coming closer to me, and I would kind of walk away to another area of the classroom. And he just walked up to me and then he kissed me. And then, it just kind of went from there.”
Regardless of how the inappropriate relationship came to be, the boy could not legally consent to the intercourse. Jennifer Caswell will not be eligible for release for at least 8.5 years, due to statutory minimums.
The boy later admitted to police that he and his teacher, Jennifer Caswell, had sex more than once. One of the encounters occurred at the school itself and took place days before Jennifer Caswell resigned her position. They were caught in the act by police officers while meeting in a Mississippi motel room.
According to a previous report from the Inquisitr, the school district allegedly knew about the inappropriate behavior but tried to cover it up.
Do you think Jennifer Caswell’s punishment fits the crime?
[Image credit: CBS]