A female teacher found guilty of having sex with a 12-year-old student has been sentenced to 38 years in prison today.
Married mother Ethel Anderson, 31, was told she was a ‘parents’ worst nightmare,’ on Monday as she was jailed in Tampa, Florida.
Judge Chet Tharpe told Anderson in court that she manipulated the boy’s parents into believing he was safe and groomed the child for sex.
“I’m not a sexual predator. I don’t present a threat to our society. I’m a mother. I’m not a monster,” Ethel Anderson said through sobs.
“You Mrs. Anderson, are a parent’s worse nightmare,” Circuit Judge Chet Tharpe said.
The alleged acts took place at the home she shared with her husband and child.
In a letter read aloud in court, the victim’s mother lashed out in anger at Anderson for taking her child’s “innocence.”
“It tears me up to know that his first sexual experiences in life were with you Ethel Anderson a predator,” she wrote. “There were many times during this trial I wish I could have gotten up from my seat to scream, yell or slap you. I feel like I could tear you apart with my bare hands, but those that know me know that I would never do that.”
Anderson was suspended without pay from her job at Mango Elementary School after her arrest in March 2012, according to Hillsborough school officials. She resigned later that year. Before her career foundered in scandal, she had been a rising star, earning a teaching award in 2011.
Anderson had gotten to know her victim as his first-grade teacher. The sex acts between the two took place at her Riverview home during tutoring sessions.
Anderson — appearing without makeup and in a baggy prisoner’s jumpsuit, a stark contrast to her sharply tailored appearance at trial — wept as she asked Tharpe to think about her own promising past and her daughter’s future before imposing his sentence.
“I keep telling myself this is not my life,” she said. “I’m a mother, I’m not a monster. … There must be something in me that shows I’m worthy of mercy.”
Anderson’s father, Jesse Harris, said his granddaughter asks about her mom every day when he picks her up from school. “It’s always the same: ‘When is my mommy coming home?’ ” A psychologist who had treated Anderson before her arrest said she had bipolar disorder. But Tharpe was unswayed by these appeals.
“As parents, we entrust our children to their teachers. We have every right to believe our children are safe,” Tharpe said. “You, Ms. Anderson, are a parent’s worst nightmare.”