Atlantic Coast High School teacher pleads guilty to having sex with student
23-year-old arrested earlier this month
An Atlantic Coast High School teacher pleaded guilty Thursday to having sexual relationship with a student.
Danielle Reed, 23, received five years of probation, during which time she was ordered to have no contact with the student. She was also ordered to not be allowed to teach again, and must have supervision when around students or children. Reed cannot work anywhere where there are children, the judge ordered.
Prosecutors said she will not be classified as a sex offender because the initial charge of custodial sexual battery on a victim older than 12 but younger than 18 was reduced to a lesser charge of child abuse. Prosecutors said that's because she was 22 at the time and the student was 16. They said it's only a crime because she had custodial care of the teen.
Reed was facing up to five years in prison. Neither she nor her attorney chose to comment after the court hearing.
Prosecutors said the punishment is appropriate.
"After discussions with the victim and his mother and looking at all the mitigation, the age difference and the fact that it would not be illegal were it not for the fact that she was his teacher, we made the decision that the appropriate charge in this case was child abuse with probation," Assistant State Attorney Theresa Simak said.
No one from the boy's family spoke in court Thursday, but his mother did write a letter to the judge and prosecutors. She wrote, in part, "We will forever be affected by this horrible incident that my son and I had to go through."
She went on to say, "Having sex with a 16-year-old is not OK, and my son is seeing a counselor to help him work through some of the anxiety and fear that he has."
According to a police report, an officer met with the victim at the school earlier this month and the boy admitted to having had a sexual relationship with Reed last school year from March to June.
According to the report, the two planned to spend the night together but the victim knew his mother wouldn't allow it, so he made up a fake friend and Reed pretended to be the friend's mother.
Police said Reed drove with a black lab named Dexter to the victim's home and met with his mother. The mother agreed to allow her son to leave with Reed because she thought it was his friend's mother, according to the report.
The student said he told his mother last month about having a sexual relationship with Reed, according to the police report. The victim's mother confirmed to police that Reed had come to their home to pick up her son.
The school district said Superintendent Nikolai Vitti will recommend suspension without pay pending termination for Reed at the Dec. 4 meeting of the Duval County School Board.
Reed was hired Aug. 17, 2011, as a ninth- and 10th-grade English teacher at Atlantic Coast.
Reed is the fifth Duval County teacher to be arrested in the last year and a half on charges of having sex with minors. Not all were students.
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