False Sex Crime Allegations28-Sep-2015
Being accused of a sex crime is one of the most serious allegations and criminal charges a person can face. A person accused of a sex crime against a minor is almost immediately treated with suspicion, and in the interest of protecting innocent children, a mere accusation can lead to a person being separated from his or her family, denied contact with children, suspended or fired from his or her job, and shunned by the people that were close to him or her.
While it is certainly vital that we protect innocent children from abusers, it can be quite tricky to balance the safety of a child against the rights of a person who has been accused of a crime, but who may be completely innocent.
A story out of Mission Viejo, California, demonstrates just how quickly a person can lose her job and be pulled into a costly court battle to prove her innocence, only to have serious charges dismissed. However, the woman--a teacher--was still convicted of a misdemeanor offense, even though she says it was a misunderstood "innocent gesture" that began all of her problems.
Kristin Rousch, 35, is a married mother of two who taught at an intermediate school. She gave a 15-year-old student a ride home from school--with her own two children in the car--but says that as she pulled up to his home to drop him off, the boy's mother jumped to conclusions and overreacted, telling her son that he was not supposed to be in the vehicle with his teacher.
Rousch says she told the teen's mother that she was under the impression that he had permission to ride with her. Instead of brushing off the misunderstanding, the teen's mother told her, "Kids lie all the time," and then called 9-1-1.
The teen apparently told law enforcement that the teacher kissed him--an allegation she vehemently denies--and she was arrested a short time later on suspicion of lewd acts with a minor.
Rousch described her arrest to reporters, saying that she pulled into the garage with her preschool aged daughter in the car. A vehicle containing law enforcement agents pulled up behind her and demanded that she find someone to immediately come get the child. They said if she didn't call someone to take her, they would call Child Protective Services to take the child.
Rousch and her attorney said that the teacher never had any inappropriate contact with any of her students--that the most physical contact she had with any of them was "innocent hugs."
In July, the teacher accepted a plea deal that would allow her to have the sex crime charge dropped, but it still ended her career and leaves her with a misdemeanor record. She pleaded guilty to a single count of "battery on school property" for giving the student a hug. She will serve three years of probation and has agreed to resign her teaching position as a result.
Why would an innocent person accept any plea? Why not fight for acquittal at trial? Rousch said she accepted the plea to "spare her family the expense of a trial" and to prevent her supporters from "being dragged into court."
A misunderstood gesture. A false accusation. Rousch's story shows just how quickly an allegation of a sex crime can turn someone's world upside down and permanently change the course of one's life, even if the charge is dismissed or the defendant acquitted.
If you or a loved one is facing a sex crime allegation, call an attorney immediately. You need and deserve experienced representation every step of the way.
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