Former South Kitsap teacher Springer to victim: 'It was all my fault'
July 25, 2008 · Updated 11:58 AM
After apologizing directly to her victim for her “bad judgment,” a former South Kitsap High School teacher was sentenced in Kitsap County Superior Court Tuesday to six months in jail for sexual misconduct with one of her students.
“I should have been the adult,” said Ryann C. Springer to the 17-year-old, who was joined by dozens more students, colleagues and family members of the 25-year-old defendant in the packed courtroom. “This was a very selfish decision I made, and I want you to know that nothing was your fault — it was all my fault.”
While completing her first year teaching in SKHS’s athletic medicine department, Springer was arrested in May after the Port Orchard Police Department learned she had begun a sexual relationship with the student months prior.
Later pleading guilty to a charge of sexual misconduct with a minor, Springer faced a maximum of 12 months in jail but Deputy Prosecutor Kevin Hall recommended she receive only half that sentence, commending Springer for “stepping forward and acknowledging her mistake.
“And since (the victim) was above the age of consent, many in society may feel what she did was not wrong, but she was a teacher and violated that role,” Hall said. “When parents drop their kids off at school, it is with the understanding that only learning and education is what is going on.”
Springer’s victim then addressed the court, describing her former teacher as someone with a “huge heart” that “went out of her way to help people and make them feel better.
“She always put her students first, and I looked up to her as a role model,” the teen said through tears. “She was much more than a teacher.”
The mother of the victim also spoke Tuesday, telling Judge Anna M. Laurie that she visited Springer in jail and believed she “cared deeply for my daughter.
“I have no ill will toward her, and I want the hurting to stop for everybody,” she said. “It serves no purpose to have her in custody.”
Patrick Olsen, the director of SKHS’s athletic medicine department, said he had known Springer for 10 years as a “student, friend, peer and teaching partner” whom he would still feel comfortable having around his kids.
“There is nothing predatory about Ryann, and I truly believe in letting people learn and move on from their mistakes,” said Olsen, who mentored Springer through his program and hired her to teach alongside him.
“I owe Olsen a huge apology as well — he has done so much for me and I threw it all away,” said Springer as she addressed the court, asking her students to “learn from my mistakes. I never would have imagined that my poor judgment would affect so many people.”
Laurie followed the prosecution’s recommendation and sentenced Springer to six months, reducing that amount by the more than 60 days she has spent in custody since her May 20 arrest.
“It is clear to me that you are very popular,” Laurie told Springer, referring to the large crowd of supporters in the courtroom, many whom she noted were students that called their teacher by her first name. “However, it is also clear to me that you don’t always honor the boundary between teacher and students. When you take on the role of teacher, there are certain boundaries that must not be crossed.”
Laurie said it would be possible for Springer to serve her sentence outside of jail in either work release or home monitoring, however she did not agree to remove the order barring the defendant from contacting her former student once she turns 18 in September.
“It is clear that your judgment is suspect,” Laurie said, adding that while contact with the victim when she is 18 may be “legally acceptable, that does not make it morally acceptable.”
Hall said that without being modified, the protection order would be in effect for three years from the date of the sentencing.