Former teacher guilty of sex offense

February 15, 1994|By Jay Apperson | Jay Apperson,Sun Staff Writer

A 40-year-old former teacher at a Baltimore middle school was fined and placed on probation yesterday for having sex with one of her students.

Jennifer Sorrentino, who taught at Northeast Middle School from 1990 to 1992, pleaded guilty to a fourth-degree sexual offense, court records show. She was placed on three years supervised probation and fined $1,000 for having a sexual relationship with a male student from 1991, when he was 14, until last year. Under the terms of her plea, her conviction will be stricken if she successfully completes probation.

Prosecutors dropped a charge of sexual child abuse against Sorrentino, who was teaching at an Annapolis middle school when she was charged last fall.

Court records show that police became involved in the case last August, when they responded to a report of a breaking and entering at Sorrentino's rowhouse in the 600 block of S. Ellwood Ave. The woman told police the boy, a student in her 1991 special education class, had broken into her house, assaulted her and threatened to kill her. She said he was angry because she refused to associate with him.

Police then talked with a woman who lived in the same house as the student -- who was not living with his parents. The woman told police the boy and his teacher were lovers.

The boy -- whose name is being withheld by The Sun because he is the victim of a sex crime -- told police he'd had a two-year affair with the teacher, having sex up to four times a week in her home. He also told police of an agreement reached with her when he was her student.

"The other kids was giving her a hard time, so we made a contract. I would keep the kids off her and she would buy me things, like clothes and stuff," the boy said, according to a police report. He said Sorrentino initiated the sexual relationship.

Commenting on the plea agreement, prosecutor Jan Alexander said the boy "was reluctant to have the matter prosecuted." Mr. Alexander said the case hinged on the age of the victim. If a victim is younger than 14, a suspect can be charged with statutory rape. Also, the prosecutor noted that the sexual acts did not occur in the school, where the teacher could have been presumed to have custodial responsibility, which is needed to prove child abuse.

Nat Harrington, a spokesman for city schools, said officials at Northeast Middle School had no inkling of the relationship. Sorrentino began teaching at city schools in 1986, teaching at Hamilton Middle School before moving to Northeast Middle in 1990, he said. He said she resigned from city schools in 1992. She then took a job with Anne Arundel County schools.

Upon being charged, Sorrentino was placed on administrative leave with pay from her teaching job at Bates Middle School in Annapolis, said Jane Doyle, spokeswoman for Anne Arundel schools. The superintendent will decide her status.

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