CINCINNATI, Ohio (FOX19) - A former Cincinnati-area special education teacher who had a three-month sexual relationship with a student received a one-year probation sentence in court Friday morning.
Former Sycamore High School special education teacher Jennifer Walsh, 27, faced up to 18 months in prison.
Walsh had sex with a 17-year-old female student from May to August of 2018, according to her indictment.
“The detective said you’re not a sexual predator and I don’t think you are either,” said Judge Jody Luebbers.
In October, a grand jury indicted Walsh on two counts of sexual battery after Montgomery police investigated a sexual battery complaint Oct. 18.
She pleaded guilty to gross sexual imposition and a count of sexual battery, but Friday agreed to a new plea deal.
After testimony by the victim, who is now 18, prosecutors agreed to dismiss the sexual battery charge and amend the gross sexual imposition charge to ‘interference with custody.’
Prosecutors say Walsh and the student, who was not a special education student, crossed state lines together during their months-long relationship.
“The victim spoke on Wednesday and she also wrote a letter to me. I’ve read and seen her words in court saying she has not been harmed, she engaged in this conduct willingly, she is 18 years old now, she was, in fact, not actually your student, but was a student at the school,” Judge Luebber said.
“She had very nice things to say about you and I think she loves you and wants to have a relationship with you.”
The judge said that thought was also shared by the detective on the case.
“I thought it was very interesting that the detective stated on the record that this unusual case, he thought, was real love. I’ve never heard an officer say that before either,” she said.
Judge Luebbers agreed to the new plea deal and sentenced Walsh to one year of probation and a $100 fine, with the possibility of a year in prison if she violates her parole.
“I was a prosecutor for a long time and I had several cases where a teacher was involved with a student.” Judge Luebbers said. “I’ve had several cases as a judge where a teacher was involved with a student, but this is really quite a unique case. The detective, when speaking about the facts of this case, was quite compelling. I’ve never had a case like this. I’ve never had an officer come in and speak as candidly as he did about this case. Of course every case deserves individual attention and every case is different and very facts-specific and this truly is a unique case. So, in reviewing the sentence for this case I wanted to review what the officer said about you coming forward, him speaking to you, you spoke honestly. You gave him a three hour interview, he told me, and told him everything that happened. You didn’t have to do that, but you did.”
In October, a Hamilton County Job and Family Service investigator reported an incident involving the teacher and the student.
Police said they seized Walsh’s computer, cell phone and personal documents.
Walsh was arrested and posted $100 bond before she was released from jail.
Five witnesses came forward about the sexual battery, one of them a fellow teen, according to the police report.
Walsh had no previous criminal record, and because of this, Judge Luebbers said the prosecution recommended a very lenient probation sentence.
Judge Luebbers said she would review the case after six months and said Walsh would remain out of prison as long as she checked in with her parole officer and did not commit another felony.