In Australia, a former Sydney high school teacher who pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting a 14-year-old boy has broken down in court while detailing her remorse over the “severe, lifelong” impacts of her actions.
Monica Elizabeth Young, 24, a former geography teacher, appeared in NSW District Court on Thursday supported by her parents, aunt, uncle, and grandmother after pleading guilty to three counts of aggravated sexual intercourse with a minor.
Monica was 23 when she first began texting the 14-year-old boy, telling him not to tell anyone, according to the details of the case.
She started working her first full-time teaching role at western Sydney in March 2020, shortly before the state was plunged into lockdown and online learning began.
Monica said that when remote learning began in April because of the COVID-19 lockdown, teachers were permitted to contact students via email, Google Classroom, or Zoom.
She also said students “could message you all the way up until midnight” and there were “no boundaries for online teaching”. The students were more relaxed when they returned to school.
The teacher blocked her year nine victim from the online classroom “for inappropriate comments on the feed,” she said.
But after he contacted her via Instagram, she found his Snapchat account and the two exchanged messages about the sexual acts they wished to perform on each other and nude photographs.
Monica would also FaceTime the grade nine student as she performed sex acts on herself. It was mid-May when they returned to school and the physical relationship between the pair started in June.
She later instigated sexual acts with him, including during a movie screening with other students nearby. She said the sexual acts occurred two or three times out of class and once or twice during a teaching at school and agreed that she had initiated the physical contact “every single time”.
Monica was caught on CCTV driving to meet her victim in a park after messaging him “it’s dangerous if we get caught, but if you do it, it’ll be worth it”.
But after the victim’s family saw him and Monica sitting in a car together, the school principal and police were contacted.
Monica was first arrested at her home in Greenacre in July but was released on bail from Silverwater Prison under strict conditions in August.
Monica had been in a relationship for several years at the time of the offending, but her defense counsel, Margaret Cunneen SC, told the court it was “going very badly by this stage”.
“There was a background of physical abuse, infidelity, and drug-taking,” her defense counsel said. “In addition, she had an experience herself as a child.”
The court also heard that Monica was sexually abused as a child by a student the same age as her victim. Her defense indicated there could be a subconscious link between her own trauma and the offending.
“I am unable to fully express how sorry I am for my actions that have negatively impacted (the boy) and his family,” Monica said in court.
“(The boy) trusted me and I abused that trust which may have severe impacts on his future,” Monica continued. “I deeply regret allowing the relationship to progress as far as it did. I studied for four years to guide young people but the lines got blurred.”
Monica’s lawyer said the new teacher was out of her concentration given classes to teach that she had no training in and no support from senior staff.
The teacher-student roles became blurred under the stress of teaching during COVID-19, her lawyer added.
The lawyer also asked the court to consider “how difficult it would be for a young lady of 23, in her first year of teaching, to maintain proper barriers, distance, and authority over boys of this age without being sexist at all”.
“It cannot be forgotten that she was nine years older than the boy,” her lawyer said. “It was an early time in this woman’s career, one gets a picture of a woman who could not cope with what she was given.”
Prosecutor Alexander Terracini asked Judge Traill to consider as she decides on a sentence that Monica sexually assaulted a student within months of starting full-time teaching.
“While it may be accepted Ms Young didn’t go into teaching to have access to children the fact is within months, she was abusing one of them, that cannot simply be ignored,” he told the court.
Monica has told the court that she had been receiving psychological help and hoped to continue with her treatment even behind bars.
Monica described her five weeks in prison as, “confronting”, while also telling the court she has had no access to the internet while on bail for the past 10 months and has chosen not to have a mobile phone.
“It has been quite surreal to be on bail as I never thought I would be one of those people,” she said.
Monica admitted to initiating physical contact with the boy on each occasion over a two-week period. Medical reports cite her as having borderline personality disorder features and that she was deeply affected by the demise of her engagement.
Monica Young is due to be sentenced on July 8, 2021.
Recommended Video For You!
Boy Hides Microphone In His Backpack And Goes To School. Two Teachers Are Fired The Next Day