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An Oklahoma high-school teacher charged with raping her 17-year-student is getting no jail time, leaving the parents of her victim stunned and outraged.
Erin Kathleen Queen of Sand Springs, Okla., was arrested March 17, 2012, after she was found at the Candlewood Suites hotel in Tulsa with the teen son of Shasta and Adam Belty. Queen was a 27-year-old English teacher at Charles Page High School at the time.
Although Queen was originally charged with second-degree rape and contributing to the delinquency of a minor for supplying the boy with vodka, the case was dismissed this month when Queen pleaded guilty to a different felony count of contributing to the delinquency of a minor.
She received three years of probation, was fined $600 and ordered to surrender her teacher’s license.
According to Title 21, Section 1115 of the Oklahoma Statutes, sex may be considered rape if “… the victim is at least sixteen (16) years of age and is less than eighteen (18) years of age and is a student, or under the legal custody or supervision of any public or private elementary or secondary school, junior high or high school, or public vocational school, and engages in sexual intercourse with a person who is eighteen (18) years of age or older and is an employee of the same school system.”
On March 21, Tulsa County District Judge William Kellough gave Queen a three-year suspended sentence with no prison time and no community service hours.
The outcome has the teen’s parents livid.
“I think it’s crap,” Adam Belty told the Tulsa World. “Should it be rape? No. Should she be charged with a sexual count for something? Yes, but the way (it) was explained, there’s no count (less than) second-degree rape that they can charge her with.”
“It’s very frustrating to us that she basically got a slap on the wrist,” said the boy’s mother, Shasta Belty.
“I cussed. I cried. I totally disagreed with it. (Assistant District Attorney Amanda Self) was under the impression that we were OK with a conviction as long as (Queen) never taught again. Well, we were OK with a conviction of the second-degree rape … or something that represents the sexual misconduct.”
The paper reports: “Within hours of Queen’s arrest, it seemed to the Beltys that the whole town of Sand Springs knew what had happened. Their son’s social circle grew smaller as friends and potential prom dates were prohibited from socializing with him. And as the lengthy legal process wore on, the options for his freshman year of college were limited by proximity so he could comply with subpoenas for his testimony.”
Shasta Belty says her son’s senior year was completely tainted.
“People look at this as, ‘I don’t know why he’s complaining,’ you know? They haven’t been in our shoes. … They know nothing about it,” she said.
Mrs. Belty told KTUL-TV she learned of the sexual relationship with a phone call to her son.
“He was reluctant to tell me but then he told me he was with Ms. Queen, Erin Queen. And I thought that name sounds familiar. And he said, ‘Mom, it’s my 5th-hour English teacher.’ And I died as a parent,” she told the station.
The Tulsa World reports the Beltys don’t believe current law in Oklahoma properly addresses offenses by female teachers, and “they think the legal system hesitates to call a consensual relationship between a student and teacher – especially a student and a female teacher – rape.”
“If they’re not going to punish this law to the fullest extent of it, then there should be (a law against) sexual misconduct with students,” Shasta Belty said. “There should be something.”
The district attorney’s office disagrees with the Beltys, claiming justice has been served.
“We believe a felony conviction holds this teacher accountable under the circumstances of this case,” the office said. “After speaking to the victim and the family, our office decided this was in the best interests of justice.”