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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 vulnerable victim.
"Your actions grossly breached the trust the victim and her family had in you when you took her into your home," she told the woman.
"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 offending.
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.