Former teacher sentenced to 8 months in jail

The former Bainbridge High science teacher accused of having an inappropriate sexual relationship with one of her teenage students pleaded guilty to charges of felony first-degree sexual misconduct with a minor and tampering with a witness, and the gross misdemeanor of communication with a minor for immoral purposes, in Kitsap County Superior Court Monday.

Jessica Marie Fuchs, a first-year biology teacher at BHS, was charged earlier this year after authorities discovered that Fuchs had a sexual relationship with one of her students, then tried to cover up the relationship after police learned about it in February.

Fuchs' attorney had asked the court to allow Fuchs to a “special sex-offender sentencing alternative” which would include treatment and a suspended sentence.

While Kitsap County Superior Judge Leila Mills agreed that Fuchs would be a good candidate for alternative sentencing, she also said that Fuchs should serve time in jail.

Fuchs was sentenced to eight months.

"You are going to be spending time in jail. The message needs to be sent loud and clear to you and to others, that this behavior is totally unacceptable," Mills said.

"You were in a position of trust," the judge said.

Parents should be able to know their children will be OK when they are sent to school.

"We need to know that our young people can go to school and be safe," Mills said.

Fuchs was also ordered to continue treatment, and the judge noted that her reduced sentence would also impose multiple conditions — including those that prohibit unsupervised contact with minors and restrictions against going to parks, playgrounds or other places where young people gather — that must be followed or she could be returned to jail for a longer sentence.

Fuchs' family and supporters filled three rows of the courtroom.

The victim, as well as his mother and father, were also in the courtroom, seated near the back.

The victims' mother and father asked the judge to go beyond the four-month sentence that had been recommended by the county prosecutor's office and Fuchs' attorney.

Fuchs' attorney, however, said her actions cost Fuchs her job, her family (she and her husband divorced earlier this month) and her reputation in the community where she grew up.

Fuchs apologized and said she was eager to continue her treatment, as difficult as it has been. She also said there was nothing she could say that would repair the damage that had been done.

To her victim, she said, "There's nothing I can say."

She then added: "The only thing I can say, even though it sounds incredibly trite; I'm terribly sorry."

Fuchs said it was hard knowing what she did to the victim, his family and hers.

"It's hard to look in the mirror," Fuchs said.

Mills said the case was "nothing but heartbreak for everybody."

"Clearly you've exploited a young person who had every right to trust you," she said.

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