A former teacher of Hollis, Oklahoma, will serve 10 years in prison after being convicted of having sex with her 15-year-old student.
Jennifer Caswell, 29, was sentenced to 15 years in prison with five years suspended on August 12 by Harmon County district judge Richard Darby. She was convicted of six crimes relating to the offense, with the punishments set to run concurrently, reports News OK.
“I can’t say that we had ever considered it being that harsh,” said Caswell’s attorney David Cummins. “It (the sentence) was somewhere in the neighborhood of at least twice what we anticipated.” He said that the sentence was stiffer than what other teachers convicted of similar crimes have faced, reports KSWO.
Caswell told television host Dr. Phil in May that she did not consider her crime to be rape because it was not forced upon the student.
“He came in, I was working on things, he kept coming closer to me and I would kind of walk away to the other part, you know another room, another areas of the classroom and he just walked up to me and then he kissed me. And then it just kind of went from there,” Caswell told the host
She blamed her failing marriage with her now ex-husband and the small town culture of where she taught for contributing to the relationship.
Caswell was teaching middle school English until she resigned in April 2014. She admitted to kissing the boy at his home prior to having sex with him in her classroom.
She later pleaded guilty to three counts of second-degree rape, two counts of enticing a child and one count of forcible sodomy in June, reports Public Radio Tulsa.
The former teacher will not be eligible for early release until eight-and-a-half-years into her sentence, due to statutory minimum sentencing laws.
“It's horrible because that's for life. I’m gonna be a sex offender forever. And I'm not, I'm not - I'm not a predator,” Caswell said. “I'm not a sex offender. I'm not a threat or a danger to anyone. It's here forever and I'm gonna pay for it forever... But I didn't force anything. I'm not a rapist,” she said, according to Daily Mail.
The victim’s father has filed federal lawsuits against the Hollis School District alleging that they tried to cover up the sexual acts between his son and the former teacher there.
Photo Credit: Screenshot via Daily Mail