CRIME
01/07/2015 03:04 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

School Counselor Sentenced For Sex With 18-Year-Old Student

Licking County Jail

A former guidance counselor at an Ohio high school was sentenced to two years in prison for having sex with a student.

Mackenzie Land Matthews pleaded guilty to one count of felony sexual battery and will have to register as a sex offender for the rest of her life, the Columbus Dispatch reports. The ex-counselor wept as the sentence was read in court Tuesday. She was joined by family and supporters in the courtroom.

Matthews, 34, admitted having consensual sex with an 18-year-old male senior at Heath High School between February and March of 2010. Police said the victim didn't tell anyone about his encounters with Matthews until 2014. The person he told then reported it to Licking County Children's Services.

In Ohio, sexual conduct between educators and students is forbidden regardless of age or consent.

"If she’d just waited four months (for the student to graduate), it wouldn’t have been a crime," prosecutor Ken Oswalt said, according to the Dispatch.

Oswalt told Judge Thomas Marcelain that the victim's family had urged him not to seek jail time in the case, because Matthews has young children. Matthews has no previous criminal record and had no prior disciplinary issues at Heath, where she'd worked since 2005 (she resigned once charges were filed in November 2014).

But the judge felt that prison was necessary:

...although Marcelain conceded that the risk of recidivism for Matthews is low, he said that "similar crimes by similar offenders was the elephant in the room." He chided Matthews, saying that her occupation as guidance counselor "facilitated the conduct" when she should have been "obliged to prevent such conduct."

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