Jury: former Hillsborough teacher guilty - WFLA News Channel 8

Jury: former Hillsborough teacher guilty

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Ethel Anderson. Stock photo. Ethel Anderson. Stock photo.
HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, FL (WFLA) -

A Tampa jury found a former Hillsborough County teacher guilty on all counts related to sex with a student.  She may face up to 135 years in prison.

The jury started deliberating at about 9:45 Wednesday morning. The verdict came around noon.

Ethel Anderson, 29, was on trial on charges of multiple counts of lewd and lascivious molestation. Officials accused her of having a sexual relationship with her 12-year-old student.

Tuesday the victim took the stand testifying about his relationship with Anderson. The testimony was detailed and graphic, as Anderson sat in the courtroom looking straight ahead. 

The victim is now 14, testifying on his birthday about the relationship he had for three months while he was just 12 years old.

Related story: 09/16/2013 Trial begins for teacher accused of molesting student

The victim says that Anderson was his teacher in first, fourth and fifth grade at Mango Elementary, but he says their relationship began when his mother arranged for Anderson to tutor the victim in her home.

Jurors also heard from Ethel Anderson on the stand. The former teacher maintains that she allowed a fantasy relationship to develop with the student, because she says he was suicidal and the fantasy made him feel better about himself.

Anderson says she never allowed the fantasy to become reality and says she never engaged in sexual activity with the student.

Related story: 09/17/2013 Hillsborough teacher, victim testify in molestation trial

In closing arguments, Assistant State Attorney Rita Peters told the jury the text messages between the student and the teacher were not fantasy,

"It wasn't words of fantasy.  It was words of past actions," Peters said. 

Defense Attorney William Knight pointed to inconsistencies in the testimony of the 14-year-old, saying that "his inconsistency is problematic and it should be in your mind."

Anderson will be sentenced in October.

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