When it comes to teachers having sex with students, victims aren’t all treated the same: “It’s unfortunate”

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MILWAUKEE -- They read like many texts written by a teenager head over heels in love.  "I love you."  And in response? "I love you and miss you so much." While this text message exchange could appear to be a love story in the making, there's a problem. The conversation involved a 16-year-old boy and his 28-year-old English teacher.

In southeastern Wisconsin, there has been a flurry of teachers charged with having sex with their teenage students.

"I have not, through the 30 years of doing sexual assault work, seen this many in a short period of time," said Maryann Clesceri, the executive director of Aurora Health Care's Healing Center.

Sara Domres is a former New Berlin West High School teacher criminally charged in April, accused of meeting up with a 16-year-old student in parks, parking lots and hotels.  One alleged hookup happened while her soon-to-be husband attended his bachelor party.

Sara Domres

Sara Domres

That was a salacious enough detail to bring national attention to this case, but this case does not stand alone.

In December 2015, April Novak, a former reading specialist at Menomonee Falls High School was charged and accused of having sex multiple times in her classroom with a 16-year-old male student.

April Novak

April Novak

In April 2016, 31-year-old Elizabeth Dillett, a kindergarten teacher and St. Peter-Immanuel Lutheran School's athletic director was charged, accused of having sex with a 16-year-old boy inside the school and at her home.

Elizabeth Dillett

Elizabeth Dillett

Clesceri says while the victims in cases like these may feel they are in mutual relationships, the teachers are predators.

"(The young male victims) can be groomed in the same way a young woman or child can be groomed," says Clesceri.

And it's not just female teachers who have been recently charged.

Jason Price

Jason Price

In April, 31-year-old Jason Price, a former teacher's aide at Holy Redeemer Christian Academy was charged, accused of sexually assaulting a student and sending others inappropriate photos and messages. Prosecutors say he pulled a female student into a locker room and raped her.

Jermaine Evans

Jermaine Evans

And 32-year-old Jermaine Evans, the former dean of students at HOPE Christian High School was charged, accused of having sex with a 16-year-old student more than 30 times.

Clesceri says the effects of these relationships can last a lifetime.

domres2

"Depression, even suicides, eating disorders.  The list of issues for survivors goes on and on and it's unfortunate," said Clesceri.

Not all of the teenage victims are treated the same. An example of that can be found by taking a look at comments posted by members of the general public to these stories reported by FOX6 News.

When females are the victims, it's clear where the frustration is directed.

“How tragic for the young lady involved," one commenter wrote.

“What the hell is wrong with teachers and administrators these days?" one commenter said.

“Just crazy!!!!” a comment read.

“This is just sick and getting out of control," a commenter said.

When boys are the victims, responses were very different:

“…you gotta put some of the blame on the kid too," a commenter wrote.

“What is wrong with these kids nowadays," one commenter said.

“Not guilty since the boys will be bragging about it the rest of their lives!” a comment read.

Clesceri says it is important to understand harm has been done to all of these teenage victims, regardless of gender.

"I think that if there is one message that can come across is that these are victims, and they need to be treated as victims, and the people around them need to understand they were victimized," Clesceri said.

Cell phone

Across the country, some experts say it's unlikely this problem is going to go away thanks to something kids bring to school with them every day, their cell phone.

"What starts off as a perfectly innocuous conversation very easily transitions into 'how was your day? I know you looked down. Boom, boom, boom, '" said author Frederick Lane.

Lane is an expert on emerging technologies.  He's written about the dangers cell phones can present when it comes to students and their teachers.

Lane says there are precautions every student can take.

Cell phone

First, your child should NEVER have a teacher's cell phone number or be friends with them on social media.  Parents should also not be afraid to check their child's phone.

"Parents have a legal obligation to do that.  And they have every right to do that because honestly they are paying the bills," said Lane.

Most importantly, have an open dialogue with your kids about the dangers of their cell phones and relationships.

Parents may not be able to stop heartbreak, but there are ways to protect them from those looking to do harm.

3 comments

  • Barry

    Yeah are you some kind of dumbass? Of course the men who wanted to violate little christian girls should be punished harder. Where were those female teachers when I was in school? I was always on the hunt for a “tilf”. The really hot ones were never dtf.

  • Social Justice Warrior

    Of course those boys are victims now, their sort of girlfriends got jailed for having sex with them. They’re all 16yo, they perfectly knew what they were doing and they realise it’s partly their fault (which is actually not, but they, probably’d feel the guilt anyway), not to mention the heartbreak. And who can prove it’s not the same with assaulted girls? Maybe they all were just abused, indeed, but would it hurt if they wouldn’t ever know that? Don’t know, but they are totally hurt now.

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