When Tiffiny Robinson pleaded guilty in a Richmond County courtroom last month to sex crimes against children, she joined the list of school personnel across the country accused of seducing the boys and girls under their care.
Robinson, who was sentenced today, was a secretary at Collins Elementary School indicted on allegations that she had sex with a 15-year-old pupil at both her home and a hotel room and took a 15-year-old girl to her home “for the purpose of child molestation.” Robinson was not charged with actually molesting the girl.
Robinson faces up to 80 years in prison.
An Associated Press study of five years of state disciplinary actions against teachers found 2,570 educators were punished for sexual misconduct. A majority of those offenders, almost nine out of 10, were male teachers assaulting female victims.
But media attention usually focuses on female teachers sleeping with male students. With the 2005 Debra Lafave case in Florida, the victim’s family ultimately avoided trial to stay out of the spotlight. Lafave, who seduced a 14-year-old student, received house arrest and probation. She was released from probation on Friday.
Richard Gartner, a New York psychologist and author of Beyond Betrayal: Taking Charge of Life After Sexual Abuse, said there’s often a double standard when it comes to the teacher’s gender – and also that of the pupil – when there’s a sexual abuse case.
For a young man, it’s expected among his peers that he should be proud of having sex with an older woman and that claiming he is a victim “undercuts his manhood,” said Gartner.
“It has a lot to do with what it means to be a man,” Gartner said. There’s the implication that men should “have sex whenever it’s offered and that sex is always good,” he said.
Not so with women, said Georgina Hammock, a professor of psychology at Augusta State University. When a woman acts out sexually, she’s labeled promiscious and a stigma is attached to her, Hammock said.
But regardless of gender, “there is always a negative stigma for having sex with children,” she said.