A female teacher who admitted to having sex with her 16-year-old student in the backseat of her car won’t spend a night behind bars for her shocking crime.
Monique Ooms, 31, of Maffra, pleaded guilty this week in Victoria’s Latrobe Valley County Court to four counts of sexual penetration of a child under her supervision and care.
On Friday, Judge John Smallwood told Ooms he would not send her to jail despite fears that decision could be overturned on appeal.
repeatedly had sex with her young student
The 31-year-old appears to have embraced her new tradie life and has posted photos of herself wearing an Akubra in front of a 4WD on her social media pages
Monique Ooms leaves court pursued by reporters
Ooms had faced a maximum penalty of 10 years in jail.
The court heard Ooms’ young victim had snuck out in the dead of night to have sex with his then school teacher.
The 16-year-old had been grieving the loss of a close friend who died in a fatal car crash the week before and was in a ‘vulnerable situation emotionally’.
Ooms was scheduled to be sentenced on Friday, but it was abandoned by Judge Smallwood to allow prosecutors to check whether the Court of Appeal had ever dealt with a case similar to hers.
Judge Smallwood said he had never dealt with a case involving a teacher where the child wasn’t aged under 16.
The experienced judge said he was concerned whether or not Ooms’ victim had actually been harmed by their illicit liaisons.
‘Often in these situations the harm is what comes from other people after it becomes public,’ he said.
Judge Smallwood said while Ooms’ victim was a school student, he was not a child aged under 16.
‘There has clearly been discussion between he and her about the wrongfulness of it. He nevertheless consents and makes that very clear,’ he said.
‘He being very close to 17 … does that go to in any way, shape or form the objective seriousness of the offending?’
Monique Ooms, 31, pleaded guilty to four counts of sexual penetration of a child under her supervision and care in Latrobe Valley County Court on Wednesday
Judge John Smallwood has never sentenced anyone like Ooms
Judge Smallwood claimed a previous case where a 17-year old girl had sex with her 40-year old male teacher was ‘not this situation’ and he was keen to avoid his sentence being appealed.
‘I don’t want those points being sorted out elsewhere,’ he said. ‘In terms of comparable cases, I can’t find any … I don’t want to make a guinea pig of her,’ he said.
‘I don’t want her to be put through the ordeal of a court of appeal over matters that haven’t been properly addressed by me.’
Judge Smallwood said he would not jail Ooms due to the ‘sheer fragility’ of her mental state.
‘I don’t want there to be any accidents when it’s not necessary if you understand what I’m saying,’ he said.
Judge Smallwood said the offence Ooms committed was not the act of having sex with the boy, but the fact she was his teacher.
Crown Prosecutor Andrew Moore told the court the teenager had refused to discuss the crime with counsellors and was determined to get on with his life.
‘There’s no definitive evidence of harm, but it is of course a notorious fact that in these sorts of cases – sexual offending against minors – harm doesn’t surface sometimes until a little bit later and sometimes decades later,’ he said.
Judge Smallwood said Ooms’ crime was a breach of trust created by statute.
‘You use the word minor. Is he? I mean I don’t know. They are the matters I’m worried about,’ he said.
Ooms was duped by police into getting into a text exchange with a friend where she made admissions
The former teacher (right) had reached out to the student after noticing he was more withdrawn and offered her Instagram handle, and later her phone number
Ooms formally taught a range of subjects to high school students and had only been at Sale Secondary College for a year before the inappropriate relationship started
The court heard Ooms had preyed upon her student in the weeks after his friend was killed in a car crash.
While the pair initially chatted over social media and phone, before long Ooms was texting her student photos of herself in her underwear.
In July last year the pair shared their first kiss and discussed all the things that were wrong with what had occurred.
The next time they met the pair had sex in the back of Ooms’ car while parked in a forest at night.
The court heard Ooms had sex with her student at least four times over the next few weeks in the backseat of her car before arranging hook-ups at her home.
Ooms’ grubby relationship was discovered when someone wrote two letters to the school principal, who promptly alerted police.
While Ooms initially attempted to deny her antics, she eventually confessed to police after she was duped into making admissions to a friend via text message.
The court heard when asked ‘You did actually do it, didn’t ya?’ she responded ‘Yeah’.
On Wednesday, Ooms’ barrister Katherine Rolfe argued her client should be spared jail because she’s suffered ‘public shame’ and lost her job.
The 31-year-old appears to have embraced her life as a tradie and has posted photos wearing an Akubra and posing in front of a 4WD to her social media pages.
Ooms lawyer, Katherine Rolfe, said her client had no criminal history, was of previous good character and accepted the offending was serious
Ooms formally taught a range of subjects to high school students and had only been at the school for a year before the inappropriate relationship began.
The messages revealed the pair repeatedly said they ‘missed’ and ‘loved’ one another, with Ooms claiming she fell in love with the student.
When the 16-year-old was questioned he told police they were ‘just friends’ and called Ooms to give her a heads up to delete their correspondence.
The student declined being involved with court proceedings, however his mother read out an emotional witness impact statement in court.
She said she worried for her son’s future and how her family was going to move past the inappropriate student-teacher relationship.
She said the former teacher had been involuntarily admitted to a psychiatric ward in recent months because of suicide attempts and ideation.
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