Vic teacher avoids jail for molesting boy

Kathryn Woods has been handed a community-based sentence for molesting a boy in the 1980s.More than 30 years ago, when Victorian teacher Kathryn Joy Woods was 24, she thought she fell in love with a 14-year-old boy left in her care.

The relationship started out like mother and son, but evolved to a point where Woods thought of the child as a “boyfriend” and his infatuation turned into love.

Woods had previously been the boy’s teacher before privately tutoring him, and then caring for him when his parents were away.

The pair exchanged countless love letters during 1984, but Woods insisted the pair should “not step over the line”.

But in August that year, Woods “exceeded the boundaries”, molesting the teenager.

“I do love you more than I have loved anybody in my whole life,” Woods told the boy in one of her letters.

She was finally punished for the crime on Friday in the County Court, after being found guilty by a jury in August of one charge each of indecent assault and gross indecency with a person under 16.

She was acquitted of one charge of sexual penetration of a child aged 10 to 16, five charges of gross indecency and six of indecent assault.

In 1986, Woods told the boy she was in a relationship with a man.

“He consumed so much whisky at a school fete he was almost taken to hospital,” Judge Douglas Trapnell said, during sentencing on Friday.

“(He) refused to speak to you after this event.”

The pair didn’t see each other until they met again at his mother’s funeral.

Many years later, the victim had a “breakdown”, telling his father about Woods’ actions.

She was arrested in 2017, with the victim now in his 40s.

But Woods, now 59, has avoided a stint in jail, with Judge Trapnell saying the offending could not be classified as “grooming”, but instead “situational and occurred as a spontaneous incident”.

He added she was a low risk of reoffending, but had demonstrated no remorse or insight into her offending.

Woods, who has been unable to work in education since being charged, proclaimed her innocence from the dock and announced she would appeal.

“The guilty verdicts are not true and I will say so until the end,” she said.

She was given a two-year community corrections order and must undergo 200 hours of community work.

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