Meredith L. Kane
- Victim, attorney ask that former teacher be spared prison (12-18-07)
- Questions of judgment (10-29-07)
- Lawrence school administrators: Teachers' future behavior can't be screened (10-21-07)
- Trial date set for former LHS teacher (10-03-07)
- Former teacher ordered held in jail (08-28-07)
- Ex-teacher arrested for contacting student (08-28-07)
A mother rejoiced Wednesday evening as a judge sentenced a former Lawrence teacher to serve almost five years in prison for having a sexual relationship with her underage son. "I've lost my son for a short period of time. I'm seeing glimpses of him back, but a 15-year-old can't live like a 20-year-old," the victim's mother, Teresa Chapin, said.
She spoke after Douglas County District Court Judge Stephen Six sentenced Meredith L. Kane, 24, to serve 59 months and register as a sex offender. Kane's attorney James Rumsey had asked Six to consider probation so she could be treated for bipolar disorder and partly because the victim, who is now 16, testified Monday that Kane should not go to prison.
But Six ultimately held Kane responsible. She and a student had a sexual relationship that lasted from fall 2006 until she was arrested in March 2007.
"In a fiduciary position as a teacher, I find it extremely injurious to his health and the health of any teenager in that situation," Six said.
Kane, who was a first-year LHS teacher in fall 2006, pleaded guilty in July to one count of aggravated indecent liberties with a child.
During cross-examination, Kane admitted to having sex with the boy after her original arrest until Six revoked her bond in August.
The boy met Kane when he was in ninth grade and she was a student teacher at Central Junior High School. He confided in her about problems he had with depression and drug use.
When she was hired as a high school teacher, he was in her study hall class. The two eventually developed a relationship that his parents, school administrators and police became suspicious about. They exchanged hundreds of phone calls and instant messages on the computer, Assistant Douglas County District Attorney Amy McGowan said.
Kane and the boy both testified this week that during the time of the relationship they saw each other as equals, and they lied to administrators, police and parents to protect it, her job and keep her from criminal charges. Kane also said she did not avoid his solicitation to see her even after she was arrested and out on bond.
"It's kind of like him and I against the world. That's what I felt like at that moment. It was hard for me to step away from the whole situation when I kept being reminded of it," Kane said.
The two had promised to stay away from each other if Kane were granted probation.
In his argument for probation, Rumsey mainly said the victim willingly participated in a consensual relationship and that Kane's judgment was impaired because her bipolar disorder hadn't been diagnosed.
Douglas County District Attorney Charles Branson said prosecutors believed the sentence was justified and sends a strong message, even though Kane has mental health issues.
"It doesn't hide the fact though that she was in a position of authority - a position over a minor," Branson said.
Chapin said her son's and her family's lives have improved since Kane's bond was revoked in August.
Lawrence school board members suspended Kane in March and voted in May not to renew her contract.
According to testimony, school administrators eventually pulled the boy from Kane's study hall class at his parents' request. They also had told her multiple times to stop having contact with him, even though the two kept lying about their relationship.
The Journal-World generally does not name victims of sex crimes.