Inside Nova tells us that Tina Marie Amato plead guilty to sex with a student. Immediately, seeing the title, an image popped into my head of an older person taking advantage of a younger person–a sexual predator as it were. After I read the article, I am not so sure that is how it worked this time.
I knew one of the men who was arrested last year at one of the local schools. I have friends who knew the kids involved. Every last one of the professional adults I spoke with felt that the teacher was set up by this kid. Whoa! That’s a switch. Now am I saying the male teacher was innocent. Oh hell no. He was stupid, dumb and all the other words that pop up. And he was set up. He crossed a professional line that allowed him to be set up. He got what he deserved for not maintaining his professionalism.
I expect the same thing happened to Ms. Amato. She was convicted of :
“… three counts of taking indecent liberties with a minor by a custodian and one count of crimes against nature.”
We all know what that means without spelling it out. However, it marks Ms. Amato for life and puts her on the sex offenders list for time immemorial. If she ever gets her life straightened out and has a family, she probably won’t be able to even go to a parent-teacher conference for her own kid. She has destroyed any chances she ever had of a teaching career.
So, is Tina Amato a hopeless pervert? Probably not. She, like Male Teacher in the example above, is probably just stupid, dumb, and yes, set up. Let’s look at what came out in court as far as facts:
On April 1, 2011, school administrators found out about the relationship when they confiscated the boy’s cell phone, because he was texting in school. The school administrator found “texts of a vulgar and sexual nature” from Amato to the teen on his phone and contacted police, Prince William County Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Regan Kline said in court Thursday..
The boy, who was not indentified because of his age, told authorities his relationship with Amato began when he was in the ninth grade, in the 2008-2009 school year, prosecutors said.
The boy said he approached Amato, who was his English teacher, repeatedly and, towards the end of the school year got her to kiss him in an empty classroom, prosecutors said.
The two continued their relationship over the summer by chatting online and occassionally going to the movies together, prosecutors said.
During the boy’s sophomore year, the relationship became sexual, authorities said. The two would have sex at an area movie theater occasionally and at least once had sex in a Woodbridge hotel, according to court documents.
Amato told police that she fell in love with the boy, prosecutors said.
The boy said “he did not want to call himself manipulative, but he had a hold over her,” Kline said.
After reading all that, and, I am sad to say, looking at the picture of Ms. Amato, I almost see HER as the victim. Of course, she is the adult, and she was the professional, and she crossed the line so these things could happen.
The point here is that we hear more and more about these incidents happening in public schools. For a while, I thought schools were attracting more and more perverts as teachers. I am not so sure about that. I think perhaps these things have gone on a long time. I am convinced now that there are 2 types of cases of student/adult (not all cases are teachers–some are coaches, bus drivers, substitutes, teacher aids, etc) inappropriate situations. Some are adults preying on children. Those people need to be removed and jailed.
Then there are the dumbos. The dumbos are teachers who are really victimized by students. Some students just see it as a challenge. Obviously this boy saw Ms. Amato as a challenge. I believe Male Teacher was a challenge to his “victim.” I don’t mean to excuse any of these adults. Once again, they crossed a professional line that should not be crossed. However, teachers need to be on their guard. In particular, younger male teachers need to always make certain doors are open and witnesses are present when dealing with kids. They are the most vulnerable for batting eye lashes and sweet talk with the young ladies. They also need to be careful about boys also. Students and teachers should not exchange text messages or chit chart on Facebook. Students should never be friended until that student is no longer at the school.
Nearly all schools, at least in our area have school networking for such things. If students and teachers must communicate after hours, (and there are many many good reasons to do so), the school communication system should be used. Maintaining one’s professionalism in today’s climate does a great deal to avoid situations like what happened to my acquaintence and to this young woman who I just feel sorry for. Apparently she was flattered and she made some life-altering bad choices that can never be undone. Extremely sad for her and another black eye for education.
Where there winners? Probably the lawyers and the kid who now will go around for the rest of his life bragging that he scored with his English teacher. He had nothing to lose.