By Joe Smillie
Peninsula Daily News
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TACOMA –– Sequim native Meredith Powell has admitted to having sex and sexual conversations with students she taught during her former employment as a math teacher at Lincoln High School in Tacoma.
Powell, 25, pleaded guilty Wednesday in Pierce County Superior Court to two counts of third-degree child rape and one count of communicating with a minor for immoral purposes, all felonies.
Pierce County prosecutor Sabrina Ahrens dropped a fourth charge, second-degree sexual misconduct with a minor, that was added in April after another student came forward.
Heather Songer, spokeswoman for the prosecutor's office, said Powell was taken to jail after Wednesday's hearing. Sentencing is set Aug. 29.
She faces a standard-range sentence of three years, 10 months to five years in prison.
Attorneys will recommend she be sentenced to six months in jail and three years of sex-offender treatment under a program available to first-time offenders, her attorney, Wayne Fricke, told The News Tribune of Tacoma.
She will be required to register as a sex offender.
Powell had been free on personal recognizance after entering a plea of not guilty in February.
Her trial was scheduled for Aug. 18.
She was arrested in January, after police received an anonymous tip she engaged in sexual contact, ranging from oral sex to sending naked bathtub photos, with three students between the ages of 14 and 16 years old in January.
“She's the adult. She's the one is who is responsible on a lot of different levels, including being a teacher,” Fricke told reporters outside court in explaining why his client pleaded guilty, The News Tribune said.
“She was going through a difficult time in her personal life and obviously made a lot of bad choices, regrettable choices.”
Powell grew up in Sequim, graduating from Sequim High School in 2007, and attended Olympic Peninsula Academy for a time.
She worked as a substitute teacher at Sequim High in the spring of 2012. District officials said there were no records of complaints against Powell while she taught in Sequim.
Powell was hired by the Tacoma School District in September 2012.
She resigned after her arrest and surrendered her teaching certificate.
Sequim-Dungeness Valley Editor Joe Smillie can be reached at 360-681-2390, ext. 5052, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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