St. Albans, VT – A former school employee has admitted to repeatedly sexually molesting a 9-year-old boy both at the school where she worked and at her home.
Josie Spears, 33, a former Highgate Elementary School teacher’s aide, pleaded guilty to lewd a lascivious conduct with a child, two counts of lewd and lascivious conduct, two counts of prohibited conduct, and one count of violation of court-ordered conditions of release on Wednesday, the St. Albans Messenger reported.
Spears was first arrested for victimizing the fourth-grader in February of 2017, after the boy’s mother found nearly a dozen photographs of a woman’s breasts and other body parts that had been sent to her son’s Instagram account, WPTZ reported.
According to police, Spears had told the student to delete their conversations.
The victim also spent time at Spears’ residence, because he was close friends with her son, who was about the boy’s age, according to the Country Courier.
Investigators determined that Spears had sent the nude photographs to the child, and that she also forcibly performed oral sex on him on approximately 20 occasions, WCAX reported.
Spears resigned from her paraeducator position at Highgate Elementary School soon after her arrest, according to WPTZ.
She initially pleaded not guilty to the charges against her, and was released from jail on the condition that she not have any contact with the victim or any other male under the age of 16.
Police said she violated the court’s order on two occasions, including an instance in April that landed her back at the Chittenden County Correctional Center on a $1,000 bond, WPTZ reported.
During that encounter, Spears allegedly drove by the victim’s home, and waved at him and his father as the boy was outside riding his bike.
The victim jumped off his bike and ran away when he saw her, according to court documents.
In a written statement, the victim’s mother told the court that her son was relentlessly bullied after a newspaper identified him in a story about the case, and that other parents contacted her and refused to let their children interact with him, the St. Albans Messenger reported.
The family ultimately moved away from the area as a result, she said.
The boy’s mother said her son has since been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder and depression, and that he has been “hypersexualized” due to being repeatedly sexually abused by Spears.
“I trusted her and she betrayed that trust,” the woman wrote.
The victim was also in court to witness Spears’ change of plea on Wednesday.
“We brought our son here to show him that reporting a crime does work,” his mother told the court. “That coming to adults is the right thing to do.”
Spears faces up to 15 years in prison, but will only have to serve 30 days in custody and six months of house arrest if she does not violate her sentence, WCAX reported.