A former Florida teacher was sentenced to three years in prison on Wednesday, after she pleaded guilty to having sex with a middle school student.

Stephanie Peterson, 27, of Voluisia County, pleaded guilty in October to lewd and lascivious battery sex act with a child and electronic transmission of material harmful to minors. She admitted to having sex with a 14-year-old student from New Smyrna Beach Middle School, where she used to teach and was ordered to sign her name in the sex offender’s list and serve probation.

Multiple incidents of sexual abuse took place between November 2017 and January. The teacher had sexual intercourse with the eighth-grader in a car, took him to her home and performed oral sex on him and engaged in a similar act in a barn behind the student’s house.

She was also accused of sending inappropriate photographs of herself to the victim and giving him marijuana.

After the teen’s mother discovered the sexual tryst, Peterson messaged the victim to delete evidences of their relationship from his phone. In one such message, released by State Attorney’s Office, the teacher wrote: “Pleas [sic] tell her it was the worst decision of my life and I know it was and idk where my brain was but that I somehow fell in love with you briefly and idk why and I’ll never be the same person because of it.”

The victim’s family reported Peterson’s activities to the police and she was arrested in February.

A felony such as Peterson’s would have earned her a minimum of five to 10 years in prison and a maximum sentence of 20 years. However, during the trial, Peterson’s lawyers argued before the court that she should be given less than the normally allotted punishment because the victim was a “willing participant,” although he was under the legal age limit to provide consent. The legal age for consent in Florida is 18 years.

Stetson College of Law Professor Charlie Rose told the New York Post that he did not agree with the legal argument made by Peterson’s attorneys. “The child is below the age of legal consent for sexual activity with an adult, so the fact that they were a willing participant, in my mind, is actually an escalator. It’s an indication that perhaps the child was manipulated into engaging in sexual activity. It does not make the crime less culpable,” Rose said. 

Peterson’s bipolar disorder, medications, substance abuse and a dissolved marriage were also brought up by her attorneys to explain the reason behind her poor decisions.

When the victim’s mother testified before the court, she asked for the maximum sentence, adding that Peterson’s crime had changed her son and that he had become emotionally withdrawn and was bullied at school.

“I can handle the notion of ruining my own life, but knowing I have hurt someone else is something I cannot forgive myself for," Peterson replied in a prepared statement before her sentencing, Fox35 reported