Rejecting arguments that Stephanie Mariskanish’s sexual misconduct with a 14-year-old should result in probation, District Judge Todd Russell on Monday ordered her to serve 1-3 years in prison.
Public Defender Mihaela Neagos argued the conduct took place outside the school grounds, didn’t involve intercourse or a person who was a student of Mariskanish’s. Neagos also said it was the result of the defendant’s mental health issues which would be much better addressed if she was on probation and attending treatment. She also said the misconduct wasn’t the same as between a student a teacher because Mariskanish was a volunteer at the school.
The boy’s mother, however, testified that the three instances of sexual conduct “changed my child’s life.”
“He has become a young man in constant doubt of himself,” she said. She referred to Mariskanish as “sick, twisted and demented.”
“She did not do this once and realize her mistake,” she said. “She is not a victim. She is a sexual predator.”
Assistant District Attorney Mark Krueger said just because the law doesn’t clearly define what happened as a sexual offense, doesn’t mean it wasn’t a violation of the trust between a student and teacher/volunteer.
He pointed out that almost immediately after the incidents occurred, the boy’s grades fell from As and Bs to Cs.
“And it happened three different times,” he said. “She knew what she was doing and it violated the trust of her students.”
Russell rejected the idea of probation for Mariskanish.
“A teacher’s aide in my opinion served in the same trust position as a teacher,” Russell said adding that she used that trust to establish a sexual relationship.