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I think we may have hit a whole new level of ickiness in the realm of teacher sex scandals.
Normally when I write up the story about a teacher involved with a student, I come to it early in the process, and I do follow the theory of “innocent until proven guilty”. Well, today’s story is different as I was alerted by one of my followers on Twitter to the story of Jennifer Leigh Rice after she has already been found guilty.
In 2007, when Ms. Rice was 31-years-old, she was a teacher at McKinley Elementary School in Tacoma, WA. She took special interest in a 10-year-old student, to the point that in July of that year she was told by the father of the boy to stop coming by their house. However, the Seattle Times reports that on August 11th, 2007 she took the boy from his home and drove more than 100 miles and had sex with him in a rest area along the highway.
That was not the only instance of sexual intercourse between the two, and she confessed to sex with him on 4 or 5 other occasions, including sneaking into his house to have intercourse while his parents were asleep in their own bedroom. She also confessed to having sex with his then 15-year-old brother also in July of 2007.
Judge D. Gary Steiner convicted Ms. Rice, now 33-years-old of first-degree kidnapping with sexual motivation, first-degree child molesting and two counts of third-degree child rape. She is facing up to 25 years in prison, and is currently being held in jail awaiting her June 5th sentencing.
What is most frightening about this case is that Ms. Rice had a history of problems with other schools before coming to McKinley Elementary School. In the 1998-1999 school year she was a high school teacher at Spanaway Lake High in Spaneway, WA where her contract was not renewed for her handling of an after school Spanish club.
In the 2005-2006 school year, she was a second grade teacher at Southworth Elementary in Yelm, WA. In that case her contract was not renewed for poor classroom management, relationships with other faculty, and, again, her handling of an ater school Spanish club. It seems she thought it was a good idea to let students vote each other out of the club Survivor style.
After only six months at McKinley, she was placed on administrative leave pending an investigation into accusations of inappropriate socializing with students outside school hours. It is not clear what exactly that means, but it is fairly obvious this was a very troubled woman.
While I always ask how these teachers can find a teenage boy attractive, how could anyone, anywhere sexualize a 10-year-old? A lot of times I chalk up these teacher sex scandals to women being confused about something in their lives, perhaps marital problems, any other basketful of problems, but in this particular case this woman is just a striaght-up pedophile. I don’t care how confused things may have been in her life, you never touch children let alone a 10-year-old and his brother to boot.
I have gone back and forth on the issue of psychological testing for teachers, usually going with “no” because the percentage of teachers always seemed so small. As I have followed this problem more closesly as of late, I am coming out further and further on the side of “yes”. Teachers represent one of the most trusted public figures there is. You entrust these people with taking care of your children during the day, to give them a good education and send them home in the same shape they left in. Instead the list of teachers who violate this trust just continues to get longer and longer, and the victims seem to get younger and younger.
I won’t be adding this one to the list of 2009 teachers as her crimes happened in 2007, but that doesn’t change the fact that this is still a sick, sick woman.