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Philly special education teacher sentenced for sexual relationship with her 14-year-old

May 5, 2017  |  Posted by: Francesca Falzarano
Philly special education teacher sentenced for sexual relationship with her 14-year-old

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A special ed teacher, who pleaded guilty to engaging in a sexual relationship with one of her 14-year-old students, appeared in court and attributed her actions to drug addiction.

On Tuesday, 33-year-old Stephanie Amato, who taught at the Ethan Allen Elementary School in Philadelphia, was sentenced to 11 to 23 months behind bars and will be required to register as a sex offender.

Amato, the mother of a seven-month-old child, began taking prescription opioids before she started to snort heroin every day, her lawyer told the court.

The teacher apologized to both her family and the student, stating: “I do not believe this would have occurred if it were not for drugs.”

Accusations against Amato were brought to light in 2014, and she was removed from her job pending an investigation, Philly.com reported.

The boy’s father told Action News at the time: “I was upset. She took my kid’s youth, and I want justice to take care of this woman.”

The father also added that his son was embarrassed and refused to attend school, noting: “Since that happened he changed.”

Before Amato turned herself into authorities in 2014, she posted photos on Facebook with her students.

Several boys in her vehicles posed with their middle fingers in one picture, while another had the caption: “My fav students!!”

In court, Assistant District Attorney Kelly Harrell pushed for a sentence of five to 10 years, arguing that Amato’s relationship had an adverse effect on the victim, who is now in juvenile custody after he committed a felony.

Harrell said the two engaged in vaginal and oral sex over the course of a couple of months, and DNA tests verified the sexual encounters occurred in her car and at her home.

The prosecutor also contended that Amato targeted her special education student because she thought she could get away with it and pointed to messages she sent reminding the teen: “You know I can get arrested if you tell.”

However, on Tuesday the teacher blamed her drug habit, which started in 2010 when she began taking opioids for recreational purposes.

She went to treatment in 2013 and 2014, and relapsed both times, her lawyer said. By the time she was taken into custody, the woman was using heroin every day.

Moreover, Common Pleas Court Judge Jeffrey P. Minehart said: “I know drugs were involved, and that affects everything, but I understand that it’s not controlling of behavior.”

He issued a sentence to be served in a county prison, explaining that it was her first crime before citing the 33 letters of support submitted by Amato’s family and friends.

Amato will also be put on ten years of probation and will be prohibited from contacting juveniles.

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