A former employee at Kuna Middle School who texted inappropriate photos to a then-13-year-old student must serve at least five days in jail after pleading guilty Wednesday.
Magistrate Judge Theresa Gardunia sentenced Melissa Whiteley, 34, after she pleaded guilty to disseminating harmful material to a minor, a misdemeanor. Her second charge, misdemeanor enticing a child, was dismissed pursuant to the plea agreement.
Gardunia ordered Whiteley to serve two years of supervised probation and 30 days in jail, but 25 of those days could have options, such as work release from jail. Five days must be served with no options.
According to the initial criminal complaint, Whiteley provided the boy with “a picture of a person or portion of the human body which depicts nudity and/or sexual conduct, by words or actions, or both.”
Whiteley was an office manager at Kuna Middle School when she first began interacting with the child.
The type of photos sent were not initially clear, but the boy’s mother claimed in a lawsuit against the Kuna School District that Whiteley began texting her child, “including nude photos,” in 2017. The lawsuit has since been dismissed and there was no settlement.
Gardunia did grant Whiteley a withheld judgment, meaning that if she successfully completes her probation, she could go back to court and ask to have the conviction cleared from her record.
She was initially charged in March, but the alleged crimes happened between Oct. 1 and Nov. 10 in 2017, according to the criminal complaint. She was fired from the school in November 2017, and the boy’s family filed a lawsuit against the Kuna School District in January.
Whiteley will not be required to register as a sex offender, but she must undergo a psycho-sexual evaluation and comply with any classes ordered after the evaluation and by her probation office.
An audio recording of Wednesday’s court hearing shows that Whiteley apologized to the victim, his family and the Kuna School District. She told the judge that she has pursued counseling and is trying to address her problems.
Gardunia said in court that although it is good that Whiteley acknowledges her problems, “you’ve had an epiphany at the expense of another human being.”
“I would ask you to use this as fuel to do better,” the judge told Whiteley.