A FEMALE teacher has been jailed for kissing and groping a 14-year-old boy in the store room of an Australia school.
Katie Smith, 28, from the Hunter Region of New South Wales, also admitted to sending the boy a series of explicit images on Snapchat after befriending him in late 2018.
At a hearing at Newcastle District Court on Friday, Smith was handed a sentence of three years and ten months, with a minimum term of two years and three months.
During her trial, the court heard that Smith, a PE teacher, first befriended the boy in the final term of 2018, and that the interactions between them continued in the first term of the following year.
The pair kissed and groped one another on two different occasions, once in a store room at the school, once in a car park.
She also sent the boy photographs of her breasts as well as a film of her touching her genitals.
The boy sent Smith photographs of his erect penis.
The exchanges between the pair stopped after Smith found out that some of the photos of her had been sent to other pupils within the school.
The boy later told his mother about the interactions, and she contacted the police.
Smith pleaded guilty to charges of grooming a child for unlawful sexual activity, indecent assault of a person under 16, and intentionally sexually touching a child between 10 and 16.
She told the court she had never wanted to have sex with the boy, but was seeking validation amid problems in her marriage.
She also said she experienced eating disorders and insecurity over her appearances, and that she simply "wanted to be told I was pretty".
She added that she would "do anything and everything to get attention".
Sentencing, Judge Kara Shead acknowledged that Smith suffered from a borderline personality disorder and was pursuing a course of therapy.
But she added that her conduct had been a serious breach of trust and a violation of the "absolute prohibition on sexual activity with a child".
She said that the justice system needed to send a "stern message" that sexual crimes involving minors, particularly perpetrating against pupils by their teachers, were not acceptable.
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