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Study shows female sex offenders get lighter sentences

Over the last several years, a number of New Jersey teachers have made national headlines after it was revealed that they engaged in sexual and romantic relationships with underage students. According to a new analysis by reporters at the Star-Ledger, when relationships like these happen, male teachers tend to face much stronger criminal penalties than their female compatriots.

In a review of 97 cases, the reporters found that men were sentenced to prison 54 percent of the time, while females received prison sentences in only 44 percent of cases. In addition, the men were given prison sentences that were about 50 percent longer. On average, men were sentenced to 2.4 years in prison, while women were sentenced to 1.6 years in prison.

This disparity has generated a lot of discussion, especially in the wake of the sentencing of former New Jersey Teacher of the Year Erica DePalo. She admitted to a sexual relationship with a 15-year-old student and was sentenced only to parole. She did not receive any jail time or community service, though she will be required to give up her teaching license and register as a sex offender.

Experts say that a lot of the disparity comes from a societal perception that women are more vulnerable than men, and therefore that young girls need much more protection from predatory male teachers. The perception of vulnerability also leads courts to be more reluctant to send women to prison.

Regardless of who the perpetrator is, sex crimes are still taken very seriously in New Jersey. If you are charged with a crime, it is important to take immediate steps to protect your rights.

Source: The Star-Ledger, "In teacher-student sex cases, men average longer jail terms, newspaper analysis reveals," Julia Terruso, April 29, 2013

Our law firm defends people accused of sex crimes and other criminal charges in New Jersey. For more information, please visit our website

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