true crime

Sexting your 13 year old student… bad idea.

Yesterday, I ran across a salacious news story about a 28 year old woman named Brittany Zamora of Goodyear, Arizona. Until March of last year, Ms. Zamora was a schoolteacher who taught sixth grade at Las Brisas Academy. Ms. Zamora, who has been married to Daniel Zamora since 2015, just got sentenced to 20 years in prison. Why? Because she had sex with one of her students, a 13 year old boy. They engaged in intercourse multiple times; on one occasion, another student stood watch. Aside from that, the pretty young teacher was also sending graphic sexually explicit text messages to her student, who responded in kind.

Ms. Zamora getting sentenced earlier this month. She had a female judge who clearly didn’t cut her any slack for “coming from a good family.”

The boy’s parents grew suspicious of the way their son was behaving, so they installed an application called Sentry Parental Control on the child’s phone. At that point, they got wise to what their son’s teacher was up to and called the authorities. Ms. Zamora was then arrested. It came out that she’d had sex with the boy four times in her car and once in her classroom. She also sent the boy nude pictures of herself, as well as photos of herself in lingerie. Some of the messages they sent to each other were downright X rated, as were their in person sexual activities.

Everybody has a phone, which means nobody has privacy… so why would you send dirty text messages to a minor? Or to anyone, for that matter?

When I read this story, my first thought was that it’s crazy for anyone to think they can get away with this kind of thing in today’s hyperconnected world. Thanks to the Internet and prying, nosy, curious information seekers, it’s becoming more and more difficult to maintain privacy. I know some people do things in an effort to hide themselves online. Here in the military world, a lot of women don’t use their last names on social media. However, that’s becoming a futile practice, since a lot of times, just a few mouse clicks will reveal the person’s identity. If you know anything about them at all, you can get more information.

My husband, for instance, was able to find his younger daughter online because she’d left a comment on someone’s Web site. She didn’t use her last name, but she did use her first name, and wrote in a way that easily identified her. He clicked on the name, which was attached to a link, and ended up on her blog. It took less than a few minutes to do this. He read her blog for years before she finally came around to speaking to him again. It was the only way he could stay in touch with his children. Likewise, when my husband’s ex wife decided to move to New Hampshire from Arizona without informing Bill, it wasn’t hard at all to find that information.

I have an acquaintance who seems to go to great lengths to hide her identity. She doesn’t use her full name online, nor does she post any pictures of herself. When she’s left me comments on my blogs or sent me private messages, she’s always done so using aliases. But I know her name. In fact, I know her full name. The other day, I looked her up to see if she was still living in the same city. It wasn’t hard to get the answer to that question, or any others I had. The information is out there, despite her measures to maintain “privacy”. Curiously enough, she doesn’t seem to mind invading my privacy, but that’s a password protected rant for another day.

So… why is it that a teacher thinks she can send dirty text messages and photos to a 13 year old and get away with it? It shows an astonishing lack of judgment on her part. I don’t know what drives people who want to have sex with minors. Ms. Zamora claims she is not a danger to society. But she did molest a child… so if that’s not dangerous to society, I don’t know what is.

A couple of my friends commented that they didn’t disagree that Ms. Zamora should get 20 years in prison, but they do think it’s unfair that some men get slaps on the wrist for similar crimes. They’re thinking of people like Brock Turner, the Stanford University swimmer who did less than six months behind bars for sexually assaulting an unconscious woman. The judge hadn’t wanted to ruin his “bright” future. Or, more recently, there is the case of the teenaged boy in New Jersey who got extreme lenience from a judge because the boy comes from a “good family”. The 16 year old in question had allegedly raped an unconscious girl, filming himself while he was engaged in the crime, and posting it on social media. He sent the clip to seven friends with the caption, “When your first time having sex is rape.” Some good family he comes from, right?

Bill’s comment to that was that, not too long ago, women were “slapped on the wrist” for molesting boys. He mentioned Debra Lafave, the blonde bombshell high school English teacher who famously molested a 14 year old boy who was one of her students. At the time, she was 24 years old and very attractive. In 2006, she pleaded guilty to two counts of lewd or lascivious activity and was sentenced to just three years on house arrest, seven years probation, and registration as a sex offender. Like Ms. Zamora, Lafave (whose last name is now Beaseley), had sex with her student. She also performed oral sex and engaged in these activities in front of another minor, her victim’s 15 year old cousin, who drove them around while they went at it in the back seat. I wonder why Ms. Lafave got such a comparatively light sentence. If she had been a male teacher molesting a female, she’d have probably done hard time.

Or, take Mary Kay Letourneau, the “brilliant” schoolteacher who had a sexual relationship with her student, Vili Fualaau, that turned into a torrid affair. Ms. Letourneau was given multiple chances to stay out of prison, but was eventually caught with her former student. She spent years in prison, but only after she violated her probation and got pregnant by the boy. Then, after she was released, she and Vili married. They have two daughters, in addition to the children Ms. Letourneau had with her ex husband, Steve Letourneau. If she had been a man, she probably would have spent much longer in prison.

Amazingly enough, according to the article I read, Ms. Zamora actually got the minimum sentence for her sex crimes. The boy’s parents had asked for the maximum sentence, which must have been much longer than twenty years (edited to add, maximum sentence would have been 27 years). As it is, Ms. Zamora will be in prison until she’s about my age, because she cannot be released on “good behavior”. Moreover, she will have to register as a sex offender when she’s released. Ms. Zamora’s husband, Daniel, tried to “settle” the matter with the boys’ parents, who, understandably, weren’t having any of it. The boys’ parents, instead, filed a lawsuit against Mr. Zamora for failing to contact the authorities when he learned of the affair between his wife and their minor son. Mr. Zamora recently settled with the boys’ parents for an undisclosed amount.

I don’t know if Mr. and Ms. Zamora will divorce in the wake of this legal morass. I would expect them to, even though they’ve known each other for many years and Zamora seems to be defending his wife. Fortunately, they don’t have any children. Hopefully, Ms. Zamora’s victim will be able to overcome this trauma and have a good life. In my experience, though, this kind of thing has significant ripple effects that will likely affect many people who will have dealings with that young man. For that reason, I don’t think it’s wrong that Ms. Zamora got a hard twenty year sentence. She deserves it.