Sunday, October 18, 2009

Yakima, WA teacher who allegedly seduced 16 year old student makes 1st court appearance

A teacher charged with sexual contact with a 16 year old student was oficially arraigned Friday on 1st degree sexual misconduct charges. Michele Taylor, a 13 year old Yakima, WA PE teacher, appeared in Yakima County Superior Court to say that she understood the charges against her. Judge Michael McCarthy also heard arguments arguing that the standard no contact with children order needed to be amended. Judge McCarthy said that the order did not apply to the defendant's three 5 year old triplets, while letting Taylor remain out of bond under her own recognisance.

Taylor, a physical education teacher at East Valley High School since 2004, is charged with first-degree sexual misconduct for allegedly having sex with a 16-year-old male student in the back of her truck outside the Yakima Kmart store.

Her husband, Kevin Taylor, is also a physical education teacher in the East Valley School District.

Although the age of consent in Washington is 16, sexual contact with students 16 or older is considered misconduct, rather than rape, under state law.

Taylor is also charged with two counts of communicating with a minor for immoral purposes. Authorities allege she exchanged more than 400 text messages with the 16-year-old and a 15-year-old student between March and June.

Taylor, whose case has sparked complaints about double standards, was placed on paid leave in June after school officials learned of the allegations and informed the Yakima County Sheriff's Office.

Aoocrding to her supporters, her case was sensantionalized because she was a woman who allegedly "seduced" a male student, while detractors pointed out that she would not been allowed to turn herself in if she had been a man.

The criminal allegations against Taylor also translates into administrative discipline. The East Valley School District will give her an opportunity to answer the allegations, then "After that, we will be prepared to give her a probable cause letter, which starts the dismissal process," [East Valley attorney Michael]Patterson said.

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