by: Kevin McCarty Updated:
TACOMA, Wash. - The families of high school students who had sex with former Tacoma teacher Meredith Powell expressed anger that she will only spend six months behind bars.
The 25-year-old former Lincoln High School math teacher pleaded guilty in July to two counts of child rape and one count of communicating with a minor for immoral purposes. She was arrested in February after students came forward saying they had sexual contact with Powell at school and in her classroom. She also admitted sending sexually explicit text messages and pictures to a student.
“I did fail Lincoln High School,” Powell told Judge Ronald Cuthbertson as she wept. “I feel like words can’t express how sorry I am. I feel like the word sorry is not even enough. I wish more than anything I could take back what happened to the students I failed.”
Powell said she has been seeing a counselor since her arrest and told the court she believes her own sexual molestation as a child played a role in what she called poor decisions.
“My past molestation while I was younger,… I didn’t really know how that was affecting me,” said Powell.
Family members of the victims refused to talk on camera or comment on the record but expressed anger at her sentence, saying it wasn't long enough. Shannon McMinimee, Tacoma Schools general counsel, who attended the sentencing, agreed.
“Men who’ve engaged in the same conduct as she has have been sentenced to five years,” said McMinimee.
Powell will get credit for the month she has already served in jail. She’ll undergo sex offender treatment and be required to register as a sex offender for the rest of her life.
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