A teacher escaped jail despite admitting to having sex with her 16-year-old student in the backseat of her car and quickly became pregnant after walking free, a court heard.
Monique Ooms, 31, of Maffra, was sentenced on March 24 by Victoria County Court Judge John Smallwood to a four-year community correction order, with 300 hours of community service for the offence.
That sentence is now being appealed by the Victorian Public Prosecutor’s Office amid claims that the judge erred.
On Friday, the Victorian Supreme Court Court of Appeal heard that Ooms hoped her recent pregnancy could convince judges not to send her to jail if the appeal is successful.
Monique Ooms leaves the High Court of Appeal in Melbourne on Friday
Monique Ooms, 31, from Maffra, repeatedly had sex with her young student. She became pregnant shortly after her sentencing.
Ooms pleaded guilty in Victoria’s Latrobe Valley County Court to four counts of sexual penetration of a child under his supervision and care.
Her attorney Jason Gullaci, South Carolina, told the Court of Appeals that Ooms’ pregnancy was the “most significant factor” in her latest defense.
During Ooms’ pre-sentence plea hearing, his then-attorney Katherine Rolfe told Judge Smallwood that Ooms was infertile.
But Gullaci told Justices Richard Niall, Maree Kennedy and Cameron Macaulay Ooms that they became pregnant almost immediately after their sentencing.
‘Sometimes it can be argued that things happen at a fairly convenient time. The date of conception, as we calculated it, was the last week of March 2023,” he told the court.
‘It took about a month before the notice of appeal was delivered. So, at that time, she has just been sentenced and there is no understanding that she will be the subject of an appeal.
Mr. Gullaci revealed that Ooms was now 17 weeks pregnant.
“It’s a high-risk pregnancy not only because of her fertility issues, but also because of her mental health issues,” she said.
Gullaci said Ooms’ mental state was so fragile that she considered aborting her ‘miracle’ baby.
“She was very distraught when she found out she was going to be the subject of an appeal and having worked at some point after that, she was only about four weeks pregnant at the time…she did so as a result of the fertility issues and the appeal was on and she considered whether to terminate the pregnancy,” she said.
Monique Ooms made it known to her sentencing judge that she could not get pregnant. so she did
Police tricked Ooms into participating in a text message exchange with a friend in which he made confessions.
Monique Ooms, 31, pleaded guilty to four counts of sexual penetration of a child under her supervision and care in Latrobe Valley County Court.
The former teacher (right) approached the student after noticing that he was more withdrawn and offered her Instagram account and then her phone number.
During her initial sentence, the The court heard that the young victim of Ooms, who was a few weeks shy of her 17th birthday, had sneaked out in the dead of night to have sex with her then school teacher.
The 16-year-old had been grieving the loss of a close friend who was killed in a fatal car accident the week before and was in an “emotionally vulnerable situation”.
The court heard that Ooms had taken advantage of his student in the weeks after his friend’s death.
While the couple initially chatted on social media and by phone, before long Ooms was texting her students photos of herself in her underwear.
In July of last year, the couple shared their first kiss and discussed all the things that were wrong with what had happened.
The next time they saw each other, the pair had sex in the back of Ooms’ car while it was parked in a forest at night.
The court heard that Ooms had sex with his student at least four times over the next several weeks in the backseat of his car before arranging the connections at his home.
Ooms’ dirty relationship was exposed when someone wrote two letters to the school principal, who immediately alerted the police.
While Ooms initially tried to deny her antics, she eventually confessed to police after she was tricked into confessing to a friend via text.
The court listened when asked: ‘You really did it, didn’t you?’ she replied ‘Yes’.
The 31-year-old appears to have embraced her new traditional life and has posted photos of herself using an Akubra in front of a 4×4 on her social media pages.
Ooms formally taught a variety of subjects to high school students and had only been at Sale Secondary College for a year before the inappropriate relationship began.
Filing the appeal, Crown Attorney Elizabeth Ruddle, KC argued that Ooms should have been jailed due to the fact that she used her good character to get a job as a teacher in the first place.
She further stated Judge Smallwood might have acted differently if the accused teacher had been a man.
“One thing that strikes me when you read (Judge Smallwood’s) reasons, if you swap the genders of the complainant and the offender, some of the statements would be quite concerning about the lack of presumption of harm, for example,” he told the Court of Appeal.
“This is a serious offense, multiple times, it’s planned, there’s unprotected sex on multiple occasions, and that seems to go away sometimes when the complainant is a male victim, but in my respectful opinion, it shouldn’t.”
Ooms had faced a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison.
But Judge Smallwood made it clear that he did not believe Ooms was a sexual predator.
“I could say up front that I don’t think this crime has been predatory in any way, shape or form,” he said in March.
“It was a completely inappropriate relationship that escalated. Both were aware of the legal incorrectness of all this.
Although Judge Smallwood accepted that the offense carried a jail sentence, he had difficulty doing so because of the student’s age, he said.
“This is a situation where the victim was within a month of her 17th birthday. Questions about consent, presumption of harm, all kinds of questions will be answered in time,” he said.
Judge Smallwood said he accepted that Ooms had shown remorse for his offense and learned the error of his ways.
“I accept that you now have an idea of the potential dangers to your victim, if I may put it that way,” he said.
The Court of Appeal will make its decision at the time set.