A former North Dakota gym teacher was sentenced to 60 days in jail Wednesday for having sex with a ninth-grade male student, but will not have to register as a sex offender because of the crime.
In May, 35-year-old Bismarck resident Susan Kathleen Duursma pleaded guilty to felony child abuse against a student she taught, according to the Bismark Tribune. She had resigned from her school position months before.
In addition to her jail sentence, South Central District Court Judge Bruce Romanick also gave Duursma a six-year suspended prison sentence, along with a probation time of five years.
At a hearing for the case Wednesday, the father of the abused student spoke, saying that his son “has always been a laid-back boy,” but his innocence was taken from him.
The father said that the case had resulted in his son becoming withdrawn and he wanted the case to be over so the media would leave his son and family alone.
“The only positive that’s come out of this is the rally and support,” he said.
The father also spoke directly to Duursma, saying “He’s a good boy, and that’s why you preyed on him.”
In line with the father’s wishes and with experts’ judgment of the legal definition for mandatory sex offender registration, Romanick chose not to make Duursma register as a sex offender.
Romanick’s decision hinged on the distinction between child abuse and a sex crime, though sex was involved in this particular incident.
“It’s probably, Ms. Duursma, one of the harder cases I have to sit on,” the judge said.
Romanick also advised Duursma to seek counseling so she does not face trial again.
“If you come back to see me, things will go a lot worse,” he said.
During the hearing, Duursma was also given a chance to speak. With her time, she apologized to the student’s father and said the crime was all her fault.
“I’m sorry for all the pain and harm I’ve caused you and your family,” said Duursma, who also is a parent and has a family.
Duursma is set to serve her sentence at the Burleigh County Detention Center.
Source: Bismark Tribune