A court in the northern city of Lille has handed an 18-month suspended sentence to a 34-year-old English teacher who had a lengthy affair with one of her pupils, a then 14-year-old girl, beginning in September 2011.
The woman, named by local paper Voix du Nord as Cécile A., had been found guilty in June of “sexual assault of a minor under 15 years of age by a person in a position of authority.”
She was ordered on Monday to pay €700 in damages, her name will also be placed on France's registry of sex offenders, the FIJAIS, but the court did not bar her from continuing to work as a teacher, according to Europe 1 radio.
Since the affair came to light in April, prosecutors had freed the teacher on the condition she must not visit her former place of work, or contact the girl in question or the girl’s family.
Although not required by the court, local education authorities in Lille had also taken the “precautionary measure” of suspending the 34-year-old prof, in anticipation of her trial.
The relationship between the unmarried teacher and teen girl, which was described as consensual by both parties, according to reports, only came to light in December last year.
The tryst was finally uncovered after the mother became suspicious about her daughter’s behaviour, and found hidden letters, emails and text messages of an erotic and romantic nature.
"There's no doubt these were romantic exchanges" a police source told French daily Le Parisien.
The young student’s parents consulted experts at a medical and psychological centre in Lille, who then reported the facts to nurses at the Louise Michel secondary school.
Local educational authorities then informed police, who placed the teacher – who has a clean criminal record – under investigation for “sexual assault of a minor under 15 years of age by a person in a position of authority” and “making sexual propositions to a minor by electronic means.”
According to media reports the teacher admitted the relationship with the pupil as well as the fact they had engaged "sexual acts" both at her house and the school.
When questioned by police the teenager reportedly maintained 'deep silences' in order to protect her teacher, a police source has claimed.
The teacher had already been transferred to a different school before her illicit romance was exposed.