It took an Australian jury only 15 minutes on Tuesday to decide the fate of Sarah Joy Guazzo, a teacher who had sex with a 16-year-old student on multiple occasions in 2016.
Sitting in the District Court in Townsville, the jury acquitted the 29-year-old Queensland woman of unlawful carnal knowledge, the country’s ABC reported.
The age of consent in Queensland is 16, but Guazzo was charged with three counts of procuring a young person for carnal knowledge, which under Australian law is committed when someone “procures a person who is not an adult or is a person with an impairment of the mind to engage in carnal knowledge.”
Guazzo pleaded not guilty, claiming the relationship was consensual.
Jurors apparently bought the argument, put forth by Guazzo’s attorney, Stephen Zillman, that her teen victim was a more-than-willing party and that the student had “treated her like a piece of a meat.”
“You might have got the impression that he was not virginal — quite an experienced practitioner in the art of love-making,” Zillman told the court, in reference to the teen’s behavior.
The relationship was sparked during a chance March 2016 meeting, wherein Guazzo allegedly asked the unnamed teen if he had ever “thought of having sex with a teacher?”
Flirtatious back-and-forth messages between the pair eventually led Guazzo to confide that she was having marital problems.
“She told [the student] how she and her husband hadn’t slept together in a while — she said he wasn’t giving it to her,” prosecutor Dominique Orr told the court.
Orr alleged that Guazzo manipulated the student into making the first move, saying he was an “easy catch for the sexual gratification that she sought.”
“This was all about sex for the defendant — sex that the defendant wanted and [the student] was more than willing to give,” Orr said.
On various occasions in 2016, Guazzo drove the student to secluded locations, provided him with alcohol and had sex with him.
During the trial, jurors heard that the teen was a student at Guazzo’s school, but was not in any of her classes.
After only 15 minutes of deliberation, the jury returned a verdict of not guilty for Guazzo.
Sarah Joy Guazzo and the teacher sex double standard
A 2011 study published in the Journal of Social Psychology tested the theory that “male teachers are judged more harshly than female teachers for engaging in heterosexual intercourse with a student. According to the researchers, “a reverse sexual double standard was revealed, in which participants judged situations involving male teachers more harshly than they judged situations involving female teachers, but only when the sexual contact was teacher-initiated.”
Writing for Salon in June 2008 about the phenomenon of female teachers having sex with their students, journalist Carol Lloyd suggested that “the power imbalance between men and women may influence the way society regards statutory rapists.”
But contrary to the stereotypes of women as harmless nurturers – and teen boys as sexually insatiable – experts have said that female teachers do just as much harm to the boys they prey on as their male counterparts do to girls.