A former Catholic high school Spanish teacher in southeastern Michigan has pleaded guilty to two counts of third-degree criminal sexual conduct for having sex with a 15-year-old student last year. Kathryn Ronk, 30, originally faced first-degree charges and already was serving time in prison when she appeared before a court Wednesday to plead to the lesser charges, according to the Associated Press. She had originally rejected the plea agreement in March.
Ronk had been sentenced to six to 15 years in prison in March for her crimes, having pleaded guilty to third-degree criminal sexual conduct charges, but will face new sentencing on July 1. "You're really very smart, an intelligent woman," who had to have known what she was doing was wrong, Judge Nanci Grant told Ronk during her sentencing two months ago, according to The Detroit News.
Grant went on to address what she said was the “double standard” in sexual misconduct cases. "If this was a male teacher who had been involved with a 15-year-old female, there would be people here hanging from the ceiling trying to get every drop of blood," said Grant, according to the Detroit News. "But because it is a woman, there seems to be a winking about what happened."
Ronk was originally charged with five counts of criminal sexual conduct, including rape. Law enforcement said Ronk had engaged in sexual misconduct with a male student in classrooms at Bishop Foley High School in Madison Heights, Michigan.
The allegations of Ronk’s misconduct surfaced in 2014 after the student’s parents learned of their son’s relationship with the teacher.
Nearly 800 school employees were prosecuted for sexual assault in the U.S. last year. Almost a third of them were women.
U.S. authorities said in April they were cracking down on inappropriate relationships between female teachers and students. "Law enforcement is increasingly feminized, and women are much less prone to the old attitude: 'Oh, this is just some kid who got lucky,'" David Finkelhor, director of the Crimes Against Children Research Center, told Reuters last month. "They recognize the issues involved and they go after women who violate the statutes."