Therapist: Gender, age of Tacoma teacher suspected of rape doesn't matter

Meredith Powell, 24, was arrested last week and pleaded not guilty to charges that she engaged in sexual activity with two of her male students and texted nude photos to a third.

Chrys Potuzak, a Clinical Social Worker/Therapist at Harborview Sexual Assault and Trauma Center, tells KIRO Radio's Jason Rantz show that despite reaction questioning whether the teens were truly victims, the person under the age of consent is always the victim.

"When you're a teenager, you're actually still maturing, your brain is still maturing," says Potuzak. "The way that an adult can reason and make decisions and consent, children and teens actually aren't yet ready to do that."

Pierce County Prosecutor Mark Lindquist told KIRO Radio all three of Powell's victims were students of hers.

"She had oral sex with one boy, who was 15, she had sexual activity with another, who was 15, and she propositioned, via Snapchat, a 17-year-old."

According to court documents, Meredith Powell did not have intercourse with any of the victims.

After the fact, Potuzak said the young person will likely feel very conflicted about the activity and will have trouble processing it.

"That is pretty confusing for a kid to try to reconcile that or try to figure that out internally, that something might have felt good or felt exciting, but at the same time been very, very wrong," she said.

Potuzak added that if the incident is never reported or addressed, the victim may begin to internalize their feelings, which could lead to intimacy issues or unhealthy coping mechanisms.

"There is a higher probability that they're going to maybe go to using substances or something that chronically might be an unhealthy habit," said Potuzak.

In this case, Powell wrote a letter on to one of the boys' girlfriends apologizing for what she called promiscuous text messages.

Officers arrested Powell on Thursday and she has been placed on unpaid administrative leave.

And as for gender, Potuzak said people might've reacted differently if the adult suspect was a male and the victims were female, but the activity is harmful to the victim in either case.

"It seems to be this thought when it's a female that it's not this great of a harm to children, and it really is," she said.

Related:
Tacoma teacher charged with having sex with students


MyNorthwest.com, Staff report
The team that brings you MyNorthwest.com
Top Stories

  • Obama Visits Oso
    President Obama says the whole country is thinking of the Oso mudslide victims

  • Suing The Seahawks
    A Seahawks fan sues for $50 million over limiting playoff ticket sales

  • Imminent Threat
    Scientists working to save Earth from approaching asteroids
ATTENTION COMMENTERS: We've changed our comments, but want to keep you in the conversation.
Please login below with your Facebook, Twitter, Google+ or Disqus account. Existing MyNorthwest account holders will need to create a new Disqus account or use one of the social logins provided below. Thank you.
comments powered by Disqus
Sign up for breaking news e-mail alerts from MyNorthwest.com
In the community
Do you know a student who stands out in the classroom, school and community?
Help make their dreams come true by nominating them for a $1,000 scholarship and a chance to earn a $10,000 Grand Prize. Brought to you by KIRO Radio and Comprehensive Wealth Management.

Do you know an exceptional citizen who has impacted and inspired others?
KIRO Radio and WSECU would like to recognize six oustanding citizens this year. Nominate them to be recognized and to receive a $2,000 charitable grant.