A Mormon Sunday school teacher was struggling to cope with an
ill husband and financial problems when she sought
"psychological comfort" in a sexual relationship with a girl
in her care, a judge has said.
The 39-year-old woman, who cannot be named to protect the
identity of the victim, was on Tuesday jailed for three years
and one month, but will be eligible for parole in 12 months.
The Melbourne woman began climbing into bed to kiss and touch
the troubled 15-year-old after taking her into her family
home in mid 2009, the Victorian County Court was told today.
The abuse continued for six months and escalated to sexual
penetration when the woman took the girl for a short trip
away to Daylesford.
Judge Meryl Sexton said the abuse caused serious harm to a
"Your actions grossly breached the trust the victim and her
family had in you when you took her into your home," she told
"When you took her into your home you became like a parent to
her, or at least a mentor."
The woman pleaded guilty to five sexual assault charges,
including sexual penetration of a child under 16.
The offender was a married mother of three teenage boys when
she took the victim into their Melbourne home upon learning
she could no longer live with her own parents.
She also worked as a VCE teacher and was involved as a youth
leader at a Mormon church where she taught Sunday school and
met the victim.
Judge Sexton said she accepted the woman was facing an ill
husband, late mortgage repayments and a son with an
undiagnosed mental health problem at the time of the
But she told the offender this did not excuse her crimes.
"You turned to (the victim) for 'psychological comfort' when
you were meant to be providing comfort to her," she said.