Heidi Domangue Verret, a 34-year-old former substitute teacher who pleaded guilty to having sex with underage students, has accepted a plea deal that will see her avoid prison time.
According to reports, the Louisiana woman — who was first arrested and charged for the illicit sexual relationships back in 2016 — pleaded guilty to having sex with three underage teens and sending explicit messages to a child under the age of 13.
Verret’s crimes reportedly happened between October 1, 2016, and November 30, 2016.
Originally charged with three felony charges of carnal knowledge of a juvenile and one count of incident behavior with a juvenile, Verret’s plea deal saw the charges reduced to three misdemeanor counts of carnal knowledge of a juvenile and one count of contributing to the delinquency of a juvenile.
While Verret was able to avoid jail time as Judge John Walker suspended her six-month sentence, she will be on probation for two years and was ordered to pay $900 in fines plus court costs, according to WDSU.
Verret is just the latest in a string of education officials to be arrested and charged for sex-related crimes.
Since the beginning of 2019 alone, a handful of teachers have been arrested on similar charges, including Beulah High School teacher Kelsie Schmidt in North Dakota, Rancocas Valley Regional High School teacher Alexandra Reiner in New Jersey, and 50-year-old Florida substitute teacher Angela Jean Stanton in Florida. Additionally, Texas teacher Meredith Null was arrested on similar charges.
As for why there has been an increase in teacher’s being charged with sex-related crimes over recent years, studies suggest that smartphones are the primary reason for the spike in illicit relationships, as it allows teachers to communicate with the minors without supervision.
According to a report from the Texas Education Association, smartphones make easy for teachers to privately text and talk with students and also make it possible for teachers and students to share explicit images.
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