A 39-year-old married teacher‚ who had sex with a teenage pupil while ostensibly “explaining how Christ could help him“‚ has failed in her attempt to overturn her conviction for statutory rape.
Mother-of-two Leonie Sheldon-Lakey was sentenced to four years’ jail after being convicted at Molopo Magistrate’s Court in North West of having sex with a 15-year-old boy she was counselling. She was a temporary teacher at Mahikeng High School.
Sheldon-Lakey appealed her conviction and sentence‚ but North West High Court Judge Annah Kgoele dismissed both applications on Thursday‚ saying: “(She) was placed in a position of utmost trust … She manipulated the vulnerability of the victim and betrayed that trust.”
The court was told that the relationship between Sheldon-Lakey and the Grade 10 boy began when she volunteered to counsel him about his depression‚ which was affecting his performance at school.
“During the counselling sessions a love relationship ensued between them‚” said Kgoele. “(The teacher) showered the victim with gifts and even invited him to a Wimpy.”
The relationship emerged when the boy’s mother became suspicious about the length of the counselling sessions and his uncontrollable behaviour.
The judge said: “She ended up retrieving his cellular phone and found pictures of both of them together‚ (and) messages which were of concern to her.”
Sheldon-Lakey admitted having sex with the boy but said she believed he was older than 16. The judge dismissed this‚ saying it would have been easy for her to check his age — and at one stage the boy’s mother had supplied her with his birth certificate.
The teacher’s advocate told the court she had a diploma in theology and “wanted to talk about what hurt the boy and then explain to him how Christ could help him“. — TMG Digital
But the judge said: “(This) does not exonerate her … She recklessly proceeded to an extent of falling in love with him‚ without verifying his age first and ended up having sexual intercourse with him.
“Right-thinking members of society expect adults to protect children‚ not to abuse them. The offence was committed by a person who clearly knows what the law and spiritual scriptures say about morality.”