Female Teacher who had Sex with 14-year-old Student should get lighter Sentence since Boy was 'willing participant,' lawyers said

A female middle school teacher who had sex with a 14-year-old male student should receive a lighter sentence since the boy was a "willing participant," according to a motion filed by her attorneys, the Daytona Beach News-Journal reported.

Stephanie Peterson, 27, pleaded guilty Oct. 16 to lewd and lascivious battery sex act with a child, a second-degree felony, and electronic transmission of material harmful to minors, a third-degree felony, the paper said. She was a teacher at Florida's New Smyrna Beach Middle School.

A plea agreement allowed Peterson's attorneys to argue to the judge for a lower prison sentence than the five-year minimum listed in the agreement; the maximum sentence was 10 years, the News-Journal said.

And on Wednesday she was sentenced to three years in prison, the paper said in a new story, noting that Peterson's lawyers dropped their 14-year-old-as-"willing participant" argument and focused instead on her bipolar disorder as a reason to hand down a lighter sentence.

'Willing participant' is problematic argument

Stetson College of Law professor Charlie Rose told the News-Journal that attorneys insisting a 14-year-old was a "willing participant" in sex with an adult isn't a good idea, particularly when Florida's age of consent is 18.

"The child is below the age of legal consent for sexual activity with an adult so the fact that they were a willing participant, in my mind, is actually an escalator," Rose added to the paper. "It's an indication that perhaps the child was manipulated into engaging in sexual activity. It does not make the crime less culpable."

Here's a news report that aired after Peterson's arrest earlier this year:

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