A Michigan Judge sentenced a former Spanish teacher to up to 15 years- the far end of the negotiated term reached between defense lawyers and the prosecution- for her plea to a reduced criminal sexual conduct charge involving a 15-year-old student. Oakland County Circuit Court Judge Nanci Grant sought to explain her harsh sentence for 30-year-old Kathryn Ronk, in part, according to the Detroit Free Press, by saying that the defendant was dealing with children that are still developing emotionally and that she was in a position with power and influence over the victim. People Magazine reports that:
Grant stands by the sentence she handed down, adding that if the case had involved a male teacher and a female student, ‘there would be people here hanging from the ceiling trying to get every drop of blood’.
COMMENT: We are not familiar with the factual details of this case much beyond the criminal charges, however, we find the judge’s reference and comparison to male versus female defendants disturbing, particularly if gender factored into her sentence. Also, if the media has quoted her correctly, her comments concerning the developing emotions of children of the victim’s age, and the defendant’s position of authority and power over the student, do not present compelling circumstances beyond a typical case of this sort; it would seem that such factors are regular elements or circumstances of this type of crime. But as we said, we are not privy to the facts of this case, and there may be aggravating circumstances present that justify such a lengthy sentence.