A former teacher in Massachusetts avoided jail time Monday in a case where she exchanged nude photos of herself with one of her 15-year-old students.
Dorothy Bancroft Veracka, 42, pleaded to a single count of distributing obscene matter to a minor in Clinton District Court. Charges of possessing child pornography and posing or exhibiting a child in the state of nudity were dropped.
The mother of three, who was fired Sept. 30 as the case unfolded last fall, admitted to sending five nude or partially nude photographs to a teen she taught at Nashoba Regional High School in Bolton.
Judge Dennis Sargent sentenced Veracka to serve two-and-a-half years in jail suspended for two years with probation. She also must register with the state as a sex offender, undergo mental health treatment and cannot have unsupervised contact with children under the age of 16.
He stipulated, however, that Veracka would be allowed to go to her children’s schools if they are taking part in an event.
Additionally, she cannot have any contact with the student.
Veracka, who was initially charged in October, sent nude photos of herself to the student between September 2018 and March 2019, according to court records.
The student told police that Veracka actively solicited nude photos from him. The teen sent one photo and then stopped.
Authorities said the teen provided police with the nude photos sent to him by Veracka, as well as a text conversation the two had that he saved on the social media platform Snapchat.
Veracka admitted to receiving nude photos from the student.
Assistant District Attorney Paige Barton said the photographs Veracka sent the teen were found on her cell phone. Veracka admitted to sending the photos, the prosecutor said.
Defense attorney Frank McNamara said his client’s poor decisions were fueled by alcohol, late-night messaging and compulsive behavior. He noted there was no physical contact between Veracka and the student.
During sentencing, prosecutor’s read a statement into the record from the teen’s family.
“She is sick,” the family wrote. ““He stopped it, not her.”
“No adult in their right mind would ever think of doing such a thing.”
Reports of female teachers engaging in sexual conduct with students is on the rise, according to experts.
A 2017 study published by the U.S. Justice Department found an increase in the percentage of female educators in K-12 schools charged with sexual abuse of students.
Psychologist Anna Salter, an expert on sexual predators, said female perpetrators are typically married moms in their mid-30s.
“They think they love the children,” she told the journal.
Charol Shakeshaft, an education professor at Virginia Commonwealth University, said there is a name for these women: “opportunistic abusers.”
They are often the popular teachers, Shakeshaft explained in a 2013 study. They “tend to spend a lot of time around groups of students, talking with them, going to the same places they go, and trying to blend in. They are the teachers who want to be seen as hip or cool and who want the students to think they are part of the student peer group,” she said.