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Parents knew of teen sex

Norrie Ross, Herald Sun News, February 18, 2005

A woman who had a Desperate Housewives- style affair with her teen gardener has avoided jail.

The County Court in Ballarat heard the woman and the then 14-year-old boy started a relationship after he began doing odd jobs, such as gardening.

Judge Wendy Wilmoth jailed the woman for six months, but suspended the sentence for a year.

The woman was desperate and lonely after separating from an abusive de facto husband, the court heard.

Judge Wilmoth said the boy's parents came to accept the positive aspects of the affair and became a friend and supporter of the woman.

Both the boy and his mother wrote letters to Judge Wilmoth supporting the woman.

"The relationship between you, which commenced as that between girlfriend and boyfriend, came to have the characteristics of a de facto relationship," said the judge.

"There have been no features of force or threat between you and after the initial period of secrecy the relationship became an open one of which your families were aware."

In the hit TV show Desperate Housewives character Gabrielle Solis has illicit sex sessions with her 17-year-old gardener.

Defence lawyer Scott Belcher told the court his 30-year-old client had known the victim for two years and tried to put an end to the relationship.

Mr. Belcher said the mother of two was not in a position of trust as in recent cases involving teacher-student relationships.

She did not start the relationship because she sought sexual gratification, he said.

And the boy did not regard himself as a victim.

The woman, who cannot be named, pleaded guilty to one count of sexual penetration with a child under 16.

The boy, who will be 16 this year, sat close to his former lover in court before she was placed in the prisoners' dock.

Mr. Belcher said the boy's parents initially disapproved strongly of the relationship but changed after they saw the improvement in his behaviour.

But the judge said the sentence had to send a message that the law protected the young from exploitation.

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