SJ teacher arrested on suspicion of child sex abuse

Colette Phelps

June 15, 2011 6:13:40 PM PDT
A San Jose teacher is accused of having sexual relations with a 14-year-old student.

Colete Phelps, 28, appeared in court Wednesday morning on two counts of lewd or lascivious acts on a child. The victim is a 14-year-old boy who attends Stratford in San Jose where Phelps was a teacher.

"I will say though that she is deeply embarrassed to be in this situation," said defense attorney Steve Clark. "It's a matter out of the respect for the privacy of the people listed in the police report, and Ms. Phelps does not want to comment on that."

Police say the inappropriate sexual contact took place between April 10 and June 1, and there were more than two encounters.

"As soon as we learned of the situation, we put Ms. Phelps on indefinite leave and subsequently terminated her employment," a statement issued by Stratford read.

It's not known who reported the sexual conduct or if any acts took place on campus.

Dr. Eugene Schoenfeld, a psychiatrist with 47 years of experience, is a firm believer that young boys are not harmed in the same way by adult relationships as young girls.

"There are differences with girls physically, psychologically and morally," said Schenfeld," and those factors do not exist from teenage boys in the same matter."

Prosecutors, however, say Phelps was in a position of trust and violated the law. They will listen to what the former teacher's defense attorney has to say about recent personal and medical challenges that may be a factor in the case.

"It might mitigate the sentence issues, maybe," said deputy district attorney Tim Moore. "As far as criminal conduct, I can't think of any information that could legally justify what happened here."

If convicted, Phelps faces a sentence that ranges from probation to a prison sentence of three years, eight months. Phelps is scheduled to enter a plea on July 8.

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