Mackenzie Land Matthews is a former guidance counselor in Ohio who has been sentenced to two years in prison for having had a sexual relationship with a 18-year-old male student. Both her arrest and now her conviction and sentencing have received international attention.
The story of the 34-year-old Mackenzie Land Matthews (mugshot photo above) made headlines around the world when she was arrested in November of last year. Now in the aftermath of her prison since she is back in the news again, and worldwide interest in the case is again spiking.
At the time of the incident in 2010 which led to her arrest Matthews was employed as a guidance counselor at Heath High School in Licking County, Ohio. As The Columbus Dispatch reported at the time of her arrest, was fired by the school district. Additionally her teaching license was revoked. It was in November that the school authorities got word of the improper relationship between Matthews and the student. She admitted to the sexual relationship according to the police report and evidence corroborated the admission.
According to The Columbus Dispatch, in Licking County Common Pleas Court she pleaded guilty to one count of sexual battery for having sex with the 18-year-old male victim, who was a senior at the high school in 2010. In the state of Ohio, sexual battery is a third-degree felony and sex between an educator and a student is illegal in the state regardless as to whether the student is of the age of consent.
Judge Thomas Marcelain sentenced Matthews to two years in prison. Additionally, she is a Tier III sex offender for life, meaning she is must register every 90 days with authorities for the remainder of her life.
The newspaper goes on to note that the according to the Prosecutor Ken Oswalt, the victim’s parents had requested no prison time for the former teacher “for the defendant’s children’s sake.”
However, Judge Marcelain is reported as noting that despite the low risk of recidivism for Matthews, “ similar crimes by similar offenders was the elephant in the room.” He further noted that although to her position as a guidance counselor “facilitated the conduct” she was “obliged to prevent such conduct.”
It is the prison sentence that has become a vocal point of the discussion and reaction, especially as there have been other highly publicized cases of female teachers who have received suspended sentences and/or have been sentenced to probation. Nonetheless as the judge in this case has so eloquently pointed out teachers and other persons in authority over children do have an obligation to avoid misconduct.