An Atlanta-area teacher was arrested for an inappropriate relationship with a 17-year-old student, claiming during the trial that it was both consensual and the student's idea.
Therese Gunn, 54, served as an orchestra teacher at a Gwinnett County high school where she developed a relationship with a 17-year-old male student, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. The relationship came to light when the student's mother reported it to police after she found details of their relationship in his journal.
Gunn and the male student had relations at the school, as well as the local park and at Gunn's home. Police also say that Gunn invited the boy and other classmates over to her home to smoke marijuana, partaking in the drug herself. She was arrested in May 2016 on several charges, but the drug-specific charges did not lead to an indictment.
In the state of Georgia, affairs between authority figures, such as teachers or police officers, and those in their care are illegal, regardless of any consensual nature between them. Gunn had been a teacher at the school since 2002 and resigned during the course of the school's investigation into Gunn's relationship.
During the trial, Gunn tried to shift blame toward the student, claiming that she had recently gone through a difficult divorce and the student had taken advantage of the situation.
"[He] coerced me and I would say that it was like a car salesman," Gunn told the court during the trial, according to WSB-TV. She also said that she "messed up the trust of everybody," and apologized for her actions several times.
The judge presiding over the case did not agree that the student had taken advantage of Gunn.
"Let's face it. You must have been in a real horrible place to make such a bad decision, but clearly you weren't coerced," said Judge Warren Davis.
Prosecutors in the case wanted to make an example out of Gunn, considering the high number of student-teacher relationship scandals in Gwinnett in recent months. They asked for a prison sentence of two years.
"I think especially in this country, at this time, that continues to happen and taking a strong stance at this time, when it's appropriate, might help to stop the bleeding on that," said prosecutor Karen West.
The student said that Gunn had made his life "hell" and that he was devastated by the recent events.
Gunn will serve 90 days in prison, followed by 10 years probation.