Thursday, May 15, 2008
Former Hurricane, Utah High School Teacher Cris Lynn Morris Given 30-Day Wrist Slap For Having Recurring Sex With Male Student
I don't know what in hell the problem is down in Hurricane, Utah. Somebody must have spiked the local water supply with Viagra. All I know is, it seems like the cops and teachers there are more interested in having sex with their clients than in doing their jobs. A now-former cop was busted for having sex with a client back in March.
And now a former Hurricane High School teacher has been given a 30-day wrist slap for having sex with a male student. To add insult to injury, it is NOT 30 consecutive days; she gets the luxury of spreading it out over 15 consecutive weekends. Full story published by the St. George Spectrum, the Salt Lake Tribune, and the Deseret Morning News, and KSL Channel 5. This post combines and summarizes the reports.
Morris, who became a teacher at the high school in 2004 and who also served as a track coach, began texting the then-17-year-old victim in the summer of 2007 after he approached her with "admiration," Beacham said in recounting what led up to the crimes. The teen and Morris also met in her classroom, kissed and had sex with each other at least three times last October at her house. She was finally arrested on October 24th, 2007. [Ed. Note: Having been once a teenager myself, I am familiar with that sort of "admiration". I recall when I was called to the front of the class to do a problem finding it necessary to hold a textbook over my midriff in order to prevent that "admiration" from becoming visible to the rest of my classmates.]
Originally charged with five counts of first-degree rape, Morris plea-bargained it down to three counts of unlawful sexual conduct with a 16- or 17-year-old, all third-degree felonies. As a result, 5th District Judge G. Rand Beacham sentenced Morris as follows:
(1). Three prison terms of zero-to-five years behind bars, all suspended.
(2). As a substitute for the suspended prison sentence, 30 days in the Purgatory Correctional Facility in Washington County. The St. George Spectrum further reported that the 30 days is NOT consecutive, but will be spread out over 15 consecutive weekends.
(3). Thirty-six months supervised probation.
(4). Completion of sex-offender therapy.
(5). Registration as a sex offender.
(6). The Salt Lake Tribune also reports that Morris was fined $3,000 and ordered to pay an additional $2,500 to a victim restitution fund. [Ed. Note: "Restitution"? Hmmm...]
Mitigating factors provoking the judge to leniency included many positive written character references from people who have known the woman for a long time and under various circumstances, her status as the mother of three young children, and the fact that she now has a full-time bookkeeping job. In addition, her lawyer states that Morris is very remorseful.
Commentary: Most of the punishment seems reasonable. Fifteen years in prison would clearly be overkill. Even five years would be too much. But 30 days - and only on weekends? That's a slap on the wrist. While the primary purpose of a sentence ought to be tailored punishment, there ought to be a deterrence factor as well. One year in prison would have been just right.
One question - had it been a male teacher, would he have gotten only 30 days? Answer - most unlikely. There is clearly a bias in favor of the female. But why is this? Partially because of the attitudes of males in these cases. If we hear about a male teacher having it off with a female student, we consider him a pervert and want to crucify him. But if it is a female teacher with a male student, then many of us ask "Where were those teachers when we went through school?". The personal comments I entered in red were designed to highlight that attitude.
If we want both males and females to be held equally accountable under the law, we must start looking at such crimes as equally detestable regardless of the gender of the perpetrator.