RIVERTON — News of a 22-year-old female teacher and coach being accused of raping a 17-year-old female student has raised questions about the standard penalties in sex crime sentencing.
Courtney Jarrell, a first-year teacher at Riverton High School, was charged Friday with object rape, a first-degree felony, and forcible sexual abuse, a second-degree felony. Jarrell has been on administrative leave for the past month, following allegations of her having a sexual relationship with a student.
Looking at past cases involving sexual relationships between teachers and students, the penalties vary among female defendants.
In 2011, a judge sentenced Bountiful Junior High School teacher Valynne Bowers to up to 30 years in prison for having an affair with a 14-year-old student.
Another teacher from the same school, Linda Nef, got three years to life in 2009, even after the 13-year-old victim's attorney recommended probation.
In 2007, Melinda Deluca spent 90 days in jail for having sex with a 16-year-old boy at Copper Hills High School.
Tooele County substitute teacher Cameo Patch was sentenced to serve three years of probation, pay a $2,000 and receive treatment.
When it comes to teachers being sentenced for having sex with students, numbers show more male teachers misbehave, though fewer than 1 percent of the state's 32,000 teachers are charged for such crimes, according to the Utah State Office of Education.
One County Attorney says, when it comes to sex offense cases, each one is different. But she said prosecutors would not treat a case differently because the accused teacher is a woman.
"I know in our office, there's no distinction. There's no excuse for that kind of relationship with students," said Investigator for Profession Practices Committee Heidi Alder.
In the past 10 years, the state has investigated 72 educators for cases ranging from excessive texting and flirting to sex. Of those cases, 49 of them involved men, and 23 were women. Thirty-seven cases resulted in the teachers having their licenses revoked.