After a teacher violated the innocence of one of her students, she was facing life in prison. She was finally sentenced for her sex crime, but the judge had a different idea about what constitutes an appropriate punishment. Was his ruling adequate?
Jamee Hiatt, a 32-year-old former Leslie School District teacher of Grass Lake, Michigan, pleaded guilty to first-degree criminal sexual conduct and third-degree criminal sexual conduct after having sex with an underage student. However, that’s not all Hiatt, who was married with two young children, had done to her student in her quest to continue her perverse relationship.
After starting a sexual relationship with a 13-year-old student while teaching at Leslie Middle School, the now-former teacher filed for guardianship and even tried to adopt the unnamed victim so she could continue her sexual relationship with him. The married mother-of-two was arrested after investigators reportedly found evidence of the relationship with one of Hiatt’s students during an unrelated investigation, Fox 47 reported.
Hiatt, who had been married for eight years, confessed to sleeping with the 13-year-old student after being confronted with the accusations. In the wake of her arrest, she resigned from a new position she was holding as a third-grade teacher at Woodworth Elementary School, Daily Mail reported. She was held on $250,000 bail.
Hiatt said she had sex with the male student on at least five occasions, according to Jackson County Assistant Prosecutor Jennifer Walker. The victim told a different story, though, saying Hiatt had sex with him “so many times that he couldn’t begin to tell how many times that there were,” Jackson Police Det. Gary Schuette testified, according to WBNS. He alleged he sometimes met Hiatt at her home, where they engaged in sexual contact.
The boy said he and the teacher, who had power of attorney over him at one point while his father was in jail on a probation violation, had sex “more like every other day.” According to Walker, Hiatt offered the boy a cellphone and money, in addition to going “so far as filing guardianship over him” so he could live in her home. Authorities also said she gave the student a gun that was believed to have been used in a Jackson shooting, the AP reported.
When Jamee Hiatt was arraigned on one count of first-degree criminal sexual conduct with multiple variables and one count of third-degree criminal sexual conduct with a person at least 13, but younger than 16, Judge R Darryl Mazur called the charges “serious.” He barred her from having contact with the victim and children, including her own. Hiatt would beg for mercy, though, and it seems she got it.
Although the first count carried a maximum sentence of life in prison while the second charge is punishable by up to fifteen years, Jamee Hiatt received a much different sentence. After pleading guilty, she was only sentenced to at least three years in prison for having sex with the underage boy, according to the Detroit Free Press. The most she will serve is 20 years in prison.
Jackson County Circuit Court Judge Thomas Wilson sentenced Hiatt … to three to 20 years in prison on the first-degree criminal sexual conduct charge and three to 15 years in prison on the third-degree criminal sexual conduct charge, according to court records. She was facing up to life in prison.
Sadly, this is something we see all too often in our society, where female offenders are given a slap on the wrist for crimes that, had the sexes been reversed, a much stiffer punishment would have been likely. Although the boy may have been a willing participant, the fact remains he was a child and Jamee Hiatt was his teacher, abusing her position of authority and the trust bestowed upon her as an educator. It’s time these crimes are punished with the severity they deserve.
Like many others who have done the same, Jamee Hiatt was a trusted role model and adult in a position of authority, who preyed on a child to fulfill her own sexual desires with complete disregard for her victim’s innocence and her own family. Predators like her aren’t uncommon. There is a growing trend of female teachers — who are often married, mothers, and in their 30’s — engaging in inappropriate relationships with their minor students.
While we usually picture men as potential child predators and throw the book at them when they cross the line, there’s often a double standard when it comes to women who commit similar crimes. Perhaps that’s why incidents are on the rise. These women are opportunistic abusers who are victimizing children and should be treated as such. These boys aren’t “lucky” to become the love interest of an older woman. Their innocence is being violated, and the offender should be handled the same way it would be if the sexes were reversed.