Former Florida elementary school teacher convicted in child sex case
Ethel Anderson photo from Hillsborough Co. Sheriff Office
(HLN) — A jury in Tampa, Florida, convicted a former elementary school teacher this week who was accused of having a sexual relationship with a 12-year-old student.
It took the jury a little more than two hours to convict Ethel Anderson, former Mango Elementary Teacher of the Year, of three counts of lewd and lascivious battery, along with six other counts Wednesday, HLN affiliate WTSP reported.
Anderson, wearing street clothes, showed no emotion as the verdict was read. A bailiff immediately handcuffed her after the verdict for the first count was read in open court.
During her trial, prosecutors accused Anderson of having oral sex and other sexual contact with a 12-year-old boy she tutored at her home in Riverview, Florida, on Saturdays.
“We would make out and tongue-kiss,” the 14-year-old victim said from the stand. The abuse allegedly began in late 2011, after the boy’s mother arranged for Anderson to tutor him, and it ended in early 2012.
Prosecutor Rita Peters supported the allegations with 230 sexually explicit texts sent between Anderson and the boy.
“That was basically a diary of their relationship. That is evidence of her conduct and that is evidence of her crime. What better evidence than her own words, than her own feelings, than her own thoughts?” Peters said during her closing argument.
Anderson took the stand during the trial and told the jury she sent the explicit texts to the boy to help him focus as a student as a form of “sex therapy.”
“That was my purpose, to gain his attention. And yes, I did it in an inappropriate way,” she said.
During his closing argument, defense attorney William Knight said that the child concocted the stories of sexual abuse.
“He was told that he was going to be a 13-year-old fifth-grader, and right after that is when he makes the allegation,” said Knight.
Anderson is scheduled to be sentenced on November 5. She faces a maximum of 135 years, WTSP said.