Monique Ooms, a former teacher, has pleaded guilty to four counts of sexual penetration of a child under her supervision and care in Victoria’s Latrobe Valley County Court.
Ooms had sexual relations with her 16-year-old student, who was grieving the loss of a close friend who died in a fatal car crash.
Ooms had noticed that the student was emotionally vulnerable and offered him her Instagram handle and later her phone number.
The two began exchanging increasingly explicit messages, with Ooms sending the teenager photos of herself in her underwear.
The abuse occurred between July 1 and August 8 of last year and only stopped after Sale Secondary College received two anonymous letters. Ooms was later stripped of her teaching registration.
Ooms appears to have embraced her life as a tradie and has posted photos of herself wearing an Akubra and posing in front of a 4WD to her social media pages.
Ooms formally taught a range of subjects to high school students and had only been at the college for a year before the inappropriate relationship began.
The messages revealed the pair repeatedly said they ‘missed’ and ‘loved’ one another, with Ooms claiming she fell in love with the student.
Ooms lawyer, Katherine Rolfe, said her client had no criminal history, was of previous good character, and accepted the offending was serious.
She also had a complex diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder and borderline personality disorder, which impaired her judgment, Ms Rolfe said.
Ms Rolfe has advocated for a community-based order for Ooms, arguing the media attention and losing her teaching registration was punishment enough.
Prosecutor Andrew Moore said the crimes were serious as they involved a ‘significant breach of trust’ on a vulnerable child who had been in her care.
The student declined being involved with court proceedings, however, his mother read out an emotional witness impact statement in court.
She said she worried for her son’s future and how her family was going to move past the inappropriate student-teacher relationship.
Judge John Smallwood ordered Ooms to undergo a community corrections order assessment ahead of her sentencing hearing on Friday. The former teacher faces a maximum penalty of 10 years behind bars.
For those affected by sexual assault, Lifeline 13 11 14 and Kids Helpline 1800 55 1800 (for people aged 5 to 25) provide support services.