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Court unseals transcript in sexual abuse case

The document indicates that two boys abused by a teacher were affected
mentally by the events

Mike Gangloff, The Roanoke Times, August 04, 2007

Depression, bitterness and inappropriate sexuality are among the
lingering effects on two boys who were sexually abused by their female
teacher, court documents unsealed Friday said.

Wythe County teacher Karen Susan Patton was sentenced in June to serve
almost four years in prison after pleading no contest to charges that
she had sexual relations with two 13-year-old boys in August 2004 and
January 2006.

Similar charges involving a third boy were dropped.

Circuit Judge Joey Showalter had closed Patton's sentencing hearing
because testimony was expected to include the names of the victims.

On Friday, responding to a motion filed in June by The Roanoke Times,
Showalter unsealed a transcript of the hearing with the victims' names

The Roanoke Times does not name the victims of sex crimes without their

According to the transcript, families of both boys moved to escape the
public notice that followed the abuse -- one to another county and one
out of state.

"He was depressed and bitter at times," probation and parole officer Michael Montgomery testified about one of the victims. "He was ridiculed by fellow classmates that suspected his involvement with Ms. Patton. Ridiculed to the point that he was homebound schooled the second half of the school year, plus the following school year, he refused to go to school. He just freaked out every time he entered a school, because he felt like everyone knew."

The other boy has become promiscuous and is interested in older women,
Montgomery reported.

"Not interested in sports. No activities ... is defensive about
everything. Has the attitude as he don't care. Talked about dropping out of school," Montgomery said.

"My son is no longer the outgoing innocent little boy he used to be," the boy's mother wrote in a letter to the court.

Both boys had seen a psychologist or psychiatrist in the wake of their

Researchers say that though such cases often are portrayed as less
serious than those involving male abusers and young girls, boys who have
sexual relations with women suffer ongoing difficulties.

Patton's case also fit the research in another way. In 2003, when she
taught in Carroll County schools, she was named teacher of the year.

Researchers say teachers who prey on young students often excel in their
educational roles because it can bring them more opportunities to be
alone with victims. 

"She was the teacher that the kids liked. And that's exactly what makes her so dangerous," Wythe County Commonwealth's Attorney Gerald Mabe said in court.

Patton, who was 42 when convicted, taught science, social studies,
history and English to seventh-graders at Scott Memorial Middle School.
She also was the cheerleading sponsor.

Mabe said Patton took one boy from school during evening events there,
molested him at her home, then returned him to the school.

She was caught after one of the boys' mothers noticed her son was
frequently talking on the phone to his teacher and was on the Internet
too much. The mother went through her son's e-mail and instant messages
and found references to the abuse.

Patton was convicted of two counts of carnal knowledge and one of
nonforcible sodomy. The specifics of Patton's acts were not aired at the

Patton's husband of 20 years, Randy Lee Patton, who also taught in Wythe
County schools, testified that his wife was receiving counseling for
depression. He said he and their two sons would stand by her when she
returned from prison.

Karen Patton told the judge she apologized to everyone she'd hurt and
deserved punishment. 

"I will never understand being a mother herself how she could have done those these things with my child," one of the boys' mothers wrote to the court. "At one point he felt his life was ruined and over. It was heartbreaking knowing he felt that way because he's so young and still has his whole life ahead of him."

Staff researcher Belinda Harris contributed to this article.

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