Local CBS News Affiliate Considers Teacher Accused of Child Rape “Hot”

February 8, 2014 in Global Destruction, PSA, The Web, With Video by Dead C

meredith powellThe woman in the image to the left is a math teacher from Tacoma, Wa.  Her name is Meredith Claire Powell and she is currently under investigation for fondling, and possibly even tasting, teenage boy wieners.

Yeah… we don’t usually cover this sort of “news”/filth (we cover a completely different category of filth), but I couldn’t resist posting such a controversial and shocking headline.  I mean, that’s kind of the preferred approach with these sort of scandals; local newscasters somberly delivering the “facts” that are provided to them, leaving the implications of shock, appall, and judgment to the voice-overs used in the transitional promos.  From what I’ve already gathered since last evening, a confusing mix of contradictory information doesn’t wound or slow down the chosen narrative either.  Print it all and clean it up later.

So, here is the gist of what’s going down right now in the realm of local Washington State news: the 24 year old teacher from Lincoln High School has recently been sent on administrative leave by her employers while she is investigated and tried for engaging in inappropriate relationships with 2 of her male students and another student who was in her class the previous year.  According to court documents, the charges filed against her consist of 2 counts of Child Rape in the 3rd degree, which pertain to the 2 current students, with the first occurring “on or aboutJanuary 17th of this year and the second occurring during the period between the 17th and January 30th.  Both students were 15 at the time, but the first one recently turned 16.  There was also a 3rd charge of “communication with a minor for immoral purposes via electronic communication” which was supposedly committed against her former student, who is now 17-years-of-age.  The child rape charges are said to include an incident of her performing oral sex on one of the younger students (another report claims that it was with both) in her locked classroom and an incident of “fondling” and kissing the other, during or after a Martin Luther King assembly, depending on which report you read.  The charges apparently also involved her sending out a Snapchat image of herself nude in a bathtub to at least one of the students — possibly all 3 (again reports have been inconsistent).  She was arrested Thursday and faced her arraignment yesterday, Friday, February 7th 2014.   But… let’s just say that the information is still a little bit murky all around.

It appears that Powell was originally put on paid leave on Wednesday, but once she was officially charged, she was removed from the payroll.  All of the sources seem to report that the teacher actually confessed in detail to some of the charges, although she technically entered a “not guilty” plea in court on Friday and was released without bail on her own recognizance to live with her mother in Sequim, for the time being, due to having no prior offenses.  Based on the most consistent details and what I could read myself from the charge documents that were scanned across briefly in a King 5 News video report, Powell had initially exchanged her number with multiple students on New Years eve, which included among them all 3 of the males in question.  This was more than 2 weeks before any of the incidents for which she is being charged began.

Her reconnection and communication with the 17-year-old former student is said to have begun after he approached her for math help and to discuss “life issues.”  On January 24th or 25th, it is said that he texted her out of the blue to inform her that he was “turned on thinking about her.”  Now stating that she was drunk at the time, Powell admitted that she responded by letting him know that she thought that he was “hot too.”  The documents further state that the girlfriend of the student in question became aware of the communications between them and that Powell attempted to rectify the situation by sending her a letter of apology for the “promiscuous” and “inappropriate” comments and texts sent to her boyfriend.  Apparently, he was also spending a lot of time in her classroom, which made the girlfriend suspicious, but there is said to have never been any actual sexual contact between the teacher and this “victim” in particular.  On Tuesday, February 4th, the Tacoma School District contacted the police after receiving an anonymous tip about the teacher engaging in “inappropriate contact” with the student(s).  It seems very likely that the tip was provided by the girlfriend, who received the apology from Powell the day prior.  From there, the more graphic details of her interactions with the other 2 boys came out through interviews and the authorities are currently researching if there are any additional individuals involved in similar incidents with Meredith Powell.

hair cut powell

So, that’s just me laying down the news as informatively as I’ve been able to, considering the consistency of the information that I’ve come across.  And while the details are somewhat interesting, my only real interest in the case is in regards to the inevitable subtexts and the way that it’s all being handled and delivered to the public.  To get to my real motivation in covering this, of course, the context of the situation needed to be established first.

You can enlarge and watch the following video (below) from King County‘s local CBS affiliate Kiro News 7, which begins by listing such charges as “sex in the classroom” and claiming that Powellconfessed to it all” only later to state, with an equal level of definitiveness, that she only admitted to “some of the charges,” which included “kissing.”  It also later repeats that she’s “accused of having sex with at least 2 male students” although most of the reports that I’ve read elsewhere repeatedly clarify that no actual intercourse ever occurred.

The Mail Online article is even more scattered, as it jumps from stating that the teacher had sent the nude bathtub photo to all 3 students, and later reporting that it was sent to a single student, only to change it up yet again to the less assured claim that it was possibly received by all 3; all within the same article.  Even worse is the headline used for the piece, “Math teacher, 24, ‘raped two of her students – one aged just 15 – and sent sexual photos to a third” considering that she has yet to be convicted and was released from court with a plea of not guilty.  One minute she engaged in oral sex with one student and the next it was with 2 of them.

There’s no shortage of “facts” and information out there, but there’s a huge shortage of consistency.  Still, that doesn’t seem to prevent the information from being released.  The level of recklessness in the media is at an offensive level, especially in situations that concern such sensitive topics and the potential destruction of someone’s credibility, public image, and ability to provide for themselves, now or ever again.  Furthermore, these are claims referring to sensitive details regarding the lives of the actual school-aged victims and their teacher, which their fellow students are likely following.  While Powell‘s guilt doesn’t really seem to be in question — only at what level — it’s just something to consider regarding all of the information that we regularly receive from the media and how much we can rely on any of these specific sources to deliver it accurately.

Am I implying that Meredith Powell is likely innocent of engaging in extremely questionable activities with her students?  Nope.  I don’t think that any objective person could take that angle, if she did indeed admit to ANY of the charges brought against her, but I still believe that accuracy should be a higher priority for some of these outlets.  Washington State already became home to what is, arguably, the most infamous case of this sort, when Mary Kay Letourneu — a married 34-year-old mother of 4 and teacher at Burien‘s Shoreline Elementary, at the time — engaged in what is still an ongoing sexual relationship with student, Villi Fualauu (age 12 at the time), who she originally met when he was merely a student in her 2nd grade class.  Even if Powell hadn’t confessed, the court of public opinion is a powerful one, especially when such a high profile and vile precedent already exists.

At least one student is responsible for putting together a “Free Powell” Facebook page to support their teacher.  It quickly gained followers, but a recent defensive post from the group states “Just so you few people that waste your time spamming me, I made this before Powell even went to court, I don’t need your two cents so take it somewhere else.”  The page clearly reflects a student(s)’ own inabilities to comprehend what has occurred and how to process it, themselves.  That the figure that they were so adamantly defending plead guilty, has now left the page administrator defending themselves.  Since that post, here are the few that have followed:

“People continue to say that this page is only up because Powell is a woman and they claim it would be a different story if the offender was a male but that is not true, this has nothing to do with gender.”

“Also, this page was not made for her because she is “hot” looking. Most of us are/were who students who shared our stories with her and got to know her. No one saw this coming, we all noticed the boys always hitting her but we never would have guessed she would have done anything.”

“I’m almost sure the students involved were not traumatized considering they could have
1. Said no and left.
2. Report it immediately after.
But neither of those happened and it wasn’t even the any of the victims that went forward and reported it, it was the victims girlfriend after getting an apology note from Powell.”

Aside from helping to unwittingly discredit Powell further, these posts and their comment sections are a pretty solid reflection of where a discussion like this is inevitably bound to venture — “every teenage boy’s dream” etc. etc.  The point, of course, is that Powell was in a position of authority and engaging in such relations is an egregious violation of that authority.  There are plenty of young female students who lust after “dreamy” teachers themselves, but anyone that says that if a male teacher had sex with one of them, let alone 3, it wouldn’t yield a different response, is lying to themselves out loud.  Of course it would, and if the point that they could have “said no and left” or “report it immediately after” was brought about in defense of the situation, the response to that would be that the teacher abused the trust of the student and his position, that it would likely have permanent damaging effects on the students’ ability to move forward emotionally and ever engage in a healthy intimate relationship at some point in the future, and that it can be both embarrassing and frightening to come out with such accusations against an authority figure.

MEREDITH CLAIRE POWELLIf anything, it could be even more embarrassing and less likely to be taken seriously coming from a male as it is in this scenario, because, as demonstrated, it’s not as easy to convince anyone that these students would be opposed to what happened to them.  In fact, I don’t necessarily believe that they were “opposed” to it either, but my son probably wouldn’t be opposed to me letting him watch nothing but Robocop, allowing him to view graphic pornography (because it would confuse/intrigue him), feeding him nothing but Lik-M-Aid Fun Dip, and allowing him run to around without shoes in the cold and never take a nap, but it’s all fucked up stuff that could damage his well being and/or psyche in the long run and, as an authority figure, it’s my responsibility to not be so careless and dismissive of what’s best for his development.  If you really put yourself in the position of a 15-year-old student that has to explain to cops in detail about how a teacher put your penis into their mouth in the classroom, it does paint a picture that seems fairly uncomfortable, at best, especially when you know that you’re in a position that could help to destroy somebody else’s life.  If they felt abused by her, then it’s already fucked up.  And If they didn’t, well.. now they’re partially responsible for her potentially losing her job and being incarcerated.  And, If one or more of them did initiate the contact — extremely ballsy, by the way, and not something that alleviates responsibility from Powell — that amplifies the guilt factor, even more.  I’m sure that their fellow students are doing their part to remind them of that.

Is it wrong to have a Facebook page in support of Meredith Powell, created by and for what appears to be an impressive number of students who she affected in a positive way?  Misguided maybe, when they’re calling for her freedom, but there’s nothing wrong with a support page, since it seems as if they’re the ones who could use support from each other, right now –  that alone disproves that her actions haven’t affected the students and the school, or tampered with their concepts of trust in any substantial way.  But what has likely been the most damaging is all of the early posts and comments on the page from those “appalled at the audacity of the student who accused her of such a horrible crime,” in turn, essentially accusing the victims of a “horrible crime,” themselves.  Where’s the Facebook page in support of the kids that Powell touched in a more physical (and illegal) fashion?

In one extremely diplomatic, polite, and thoughtful post, one woman named Britany Decker included the following insight to consider:

“If it did happen then you are rallying against your peers. Subjugating them and making them feel even more lonely then [sic] they are already.”

In one of the only level headed responses on the page, the page administrator resplied with the following:

“This is just a support page for her, and if the accusations are real it will come down immediately, also if there are victims i am not trying to hurt them anymore than they’ve already been.”

The paperwork came out stating that she admitted to the crimes, but the page is, obviously, still up (the excuse being that she technically plead “not guilty”).  Eventually, Meredith herself even came on to leave a simple thanks for the support on the page.  But, in all fairness, how can you take the page down now that it has hundreds of followers and you have, indirectly, found your way into your own center of attention?  In this age?  Forget about it.  Also forget about the fact that one of Powell’s charges is related to electronic communication and that she’s been ordered by the court not to engage with minors other than those within her immediate family.  Meanwhile, posters and commenters continue to explain in detail why the victims aren’t actually “victims” and adamantly deny that her gender has any bearing on their stances and interpretation of the details whatsoever, while the voices which try to educate them otherwise are met with disdain or fall on deaf ears.  It does kind of sink their logic when they claim that her gender is a non-factor, while explaining that it’s a non-factor, specifically, because the victims were teenage boys.  But that’s only if you think about it, and why would anybody bother to think about anything?  This is about chaotic momentum, emotional confusion, and grasping for rationale in murky terrain where there doesn’t seem to be much of it.

But, all of this isn’t really anything new; this is the conversation that’s expected to take place and, for whatever reason, there has been a really insane pattern of physically attractive young female teachers engaging in sexual contact with their students.  One particular incident even involved a 27-year-old former NFL cheerleader-turned-teacher named Sarah Jones, who was arrested after repeated sexual encounters with a 17-year-old student, who she later left her husband for.  Even if it was David Beckham or Ryan Gosling as the male teacher having sex with teenage students, people would be irate.  In fact, men would probably be even more pissed off about some suave cat nailing everybody’s “impressionable” daughters.  So let’s get serious and actually go to that vile place that nobody wants to for a minute; does anybody honestly believe that if some man was teaching a math class and ate out a couple of 15-year-old girls and sent them dick pics, that nobody would find ANY issue with that?  To try and defend that hypothetical as if it would be acceptable or embraced is beyond stubborn; it’s fucking ridiculous.

But this is a “news” story and it’s one that we actually have absolutely no intention of following up on.  It brings in the TV ratings and it’s easy enough to report or post inaccurate information on the web, knowing that, if an issue of accuracy arises, then you can always just post/air a retraction, regardless of the fact that many who read/see the first account will not likely ever see the followup.  What amused me and prompted me to post anything at all, in the first place, however, is the fact that I stumbled across something that most people will never notice and I wanted to bring attention to it.  Theoretically, a case like this should be addressed for what it is: a crime.  The appearance of the individuals involved should have no bearing on the interpreted severity of the acts reported on and any “professional” news outlets should be impartial, regarding such things.  As the Free Powell Facebook page claimed, it’s not about the idea that the teacher is “hot“… or, at least, maybe it shouldn’t be.  That idea shouldn’t even be injected into part of the equation.  But, hey… check this out:

hot_teacher_bar_copy

This image above is taken from the homepage for KIROTV.com, the local CBS affiliate which also posted the video further up.  If a reader were to place the cursor over the original copy of this image on the KIRO news site, a tiny description would pop up that simply reads “Meredith Powell” and, if the image is clicked, it takes the reader directly to their coverage of the case on the site.  Its hyperlink does not take them to the location of the media file/image itself, but if you do want to see the image source, it’s easy enough: just right click, copy image location, and post it in the address bar, as you would with anything else.  If you did that, you would discover that the image source URL is as follows: .http://media.cmgdigital.com/shared/img/photos/2014/02/07/d4/dd/hot_teacher_bar_copy.jpg

If you were to simply “save” the image, without changing anything, it would download it with the title “hot_teacher_bar_copy,” just like it appears in the slug at the end of that media file URL.  The actual image doesn’t seem to be located directly on the KIRO TV site, however; it seems to be located on the site for The Cox Media Group (cmgdigital.com), so it’s possible that other affiliated outlets are using the image (it does say “copy”), as well, and that it was uploaded by someone that isn’t directly operating from KIRO News 7, at all, but rather a parent company.  Still, it’s a reflection on what manner at least one person involved in the media considers the case to exist in it’s most stripped down form.  It’s not about a perpetrator, “it’s about a hot teacher.”  That’s something that we might do, but it’s surprising coming from a source that represents itself as a non-bias major news organization with integrity.

I’ve labeled/titled more images than I could ever count on this site and, when I do so, I typically shoot for 2 things.  The first is something that sums up the way that I view the image at it’s core, in the simplest way possible.  The second is something that differentiates it from other images, so that I can tell them apart by the title alone.  The shape of this photo is a “bar,” so that inclusion in the title makes sense.  Other than that, whoever loaded the image didn’t connect to the image as “child rape suspect,” “Powell trio,”  “Tacoma teacher scandal,” or anything else, but boiled it down simply to “hot teacher.”  Then they masked it by adding the description of “Meredith Powell” so that would pop up when the cursor was placed over it, rather than the actual title assigned to it.  To them this is a case of the “hot teacher,” pure and simple and, if we’re being honest, that’s what it is to a lot of people  Is that in itself a scandal?  No, I think that’s a bit of a stretch, but it did amuse me and it is another reflection of the level of seriousness this situation is honestly being interpreted with across the board.  The focus is on the teacher and her appearance and not the students, or the idea that anyone was victimized.  I’m sure that when millions of men of all ages see this story, they will ask themselves, “Really?!  Is anyone honestly going to take this shit seriously?!”  I’m sure that there are plenty of people that aren’t even convinced that they should, but one thing is for sure, when the news organizations that people rely on to provide this information to them are making light of it, even if they aren’t attempting to do it publicly, it’s probably still a discussion that deserves to be had.

Overall, the most thorough and accurate article to come out is from the New Tribune, wherein it explains the following:

“Shannon McMinimee, the school district’s attorney, confirmed that Powell had completed required school district training that warns employees about what constitutes risky behavior with students, including suggestive text messages and social media posts or spending time alone behind closed doors with them.

Last week, McMinimee said, reminders about the school district’s policies, as well as copies of the policies, were sent to all employees.

She also said that administrators at Lincoln spoke to Powell when she was hired about her social media presence. Nevertheless, Powell wrote a blog, “Math. Mermaids. Meow,” in which she sometimes mentioned students.”

Since then, her blog has become privatized, as well as her twitter account.

I was originally just trying to do a quick search to see what she looked like, as one does after hearing that there was a scandal somewhere.  Because of Google images, I noticed the “hot teacher” URL, which has since spawned this entire fiasco that you’re presently reading.  Looking for images for this article, I stumbled across Meredith‘s Pinterest page, as well.  If you look through there briefly, or even just through Google images, you can figure out a few things about her fairly quickly.  She has a number of siblings and a close family that she seems to really love.  She wears ugly cat Christmas sweaters every December and takes photographs in them.  She’s got a designer fashion habit — Citizens of Humanity, Free Peoples, Michael Kors, Marc Jacobs, etc. — that probably isn’t the most fiscally responsible with a teachers salary.  She seems obsessed with weddings — she has a whole pinterest board with wedding shit, which might be related to being the maid of honor in her “best friend’s wedding” last fall, but everything from her profile photo on, is wedding related.  And one more thing, she didn’t used to be fat, but she, apparently, believes that she was.

Here… check these photos out:

If you click the thumbnail images above, you can view the shots, one by one, in a slideshow format.  You’ll notice the unflattering captions that I’ve placed under each one and there’s a reason for that.  Remember how I explained the concept of saving and/or uploading images under certain file names and how the labels used can often reflect a glimpse of hidden truth about the thought processes of the individuals titling them?  Well, those are the titles that Meredith herself ascribed to each of her 3 photos.  In other words, that’s the automatic label provided to them, as they are downloaded.  On Pinterest, however, they are captioned as follows [from left to right] #transformationtuesday #weightloss ; “How I lost 25 pounds. #weightloss ; and “Math. Mermaids. Meow.: Transformation Tuesday, Six Years of It. #transformationtuesday.”  They were all posted 13 weeks ago on her blog.  And, while you can’t access the blog without permission these days, you can still take the URL of the blog and insert it into a google image search, which will actually provide you with better/direct access to the images within the posts.  Accessing them through that method also provides the additional text: “… pretty happy about it. It may be a small change, but I notice and like it. Hope it can motivate you? Drink lots of water and don’t eat to entertain.” (middle image) and “Left: Thanksgiving freshmen year. 2007. Right: Showing Nicolett my tattoo. 2013.” (right image in the blue bra).

meredith and dogSo, what are the final lessons here?  One is that nobody wins.  If you look into someone’s life like that, it becomes about more than caricatures or teenage fantasies.  It becomes about more than just the perpetrators, or even the victims.  It also becomes about the families of everyone involved and the people that are questioning their ability to not only trust others, but their own judgment, as well.  How is Meredith‘s family reacting to this?  They’re clearly devastated.  How are the kids who are trying to support one of the only faculty members that they ever gave a shit about, but are being asked to remove their “Free Powell” shirts and slowly finding themselves on the wrong side of this whole mess?  Probably not well, but, from what I’ve seen, they should probably pay more attention in English class.

Another lesson is that it’s 2014 and I just turned 35-years-old this week, but still managed to maneuver my way around the internet to find out all kinds of crazy shit that the mainstream media, apparently, doesn’t have anybody on staff, either dedicated to, or capable of, locating.  Leaving silly inside comments like “hot teacher” probably isn’t the best idea, but posting images of yourself showing off your tattoo in a bra when you are a high school teacher, is an even more terrible idea.  If I was able to find shit like that, her students, which are actually being raised in this internet age, probably located that photo, as well.  I wasn’t even looking for it, and I’m sure that some of them were.  Of course, Snapchatting nude photos to the students and putting their penises in your mouth is worse than either of those things, but that probably goes without saying at this point.

Finally, imagine this: You went to high school and everything was confusing.  You never really got the hang of the whole thing and you didn’t feel very good about your self image while you were there — you considered yourself “chunky.”  Only a handful of years later, you have a chance to return, except this time around you don’t feel so insecure; you are 100 times more confident in your fashion sense and your outward appearance.  In fact, you’re a teacher, so you’re a dominant force in this environment; old enough to draw respect and wield authority, but young enough to be considered among the hippest in your ranks.  You’ve got your own paycheck and can afford to wear all of the trendiest shit now.  In fact, this time, the girls think that you’re cool and the guys actually think that you’re really hot — you can feel it.  You’ve been given a second shot at this whole thing.  Meanwhile, your best friend is getting married and you’re not.  The power of your self image dominates you enough, but being in a position of authority, balances it out a bit — some dude isn’t going to work you over and reject you in this scenario, because the dynamic where they’re superior to you (even if it’s just in your mind) doesn’t exist.

Does this scenario have any level of truth to it?  I don’t know, but I’ve already gone so Matlock on this shit, by this point, that it’s worth throwing that potentiality out there into the ether.  The dots would line up.  But even if that does play a factor in whatever went down in this case, it by no means exonerates Meredith Powell of responsibility.  It’s just a reminder that everybody is a little fucked up in the head, but you need to get a hold of whatever bullshit exists in there and not feed into it.  Just because you’ve been damaged, it doesn’t really give you a free pass to do things that could potentially damage others.  If you can’t manage to get a hold of that shit, then you need to be removed from those who you could potentially damage.

Now here’s something counterproductive:


[Side note: Yes, I do feel slightly guilty for any traffic we yield based on searches for "child rape," but hey, it's hard to argue that it would be better to detour them here than to wherever they are attempting to get.]

Dead C

Located in Seattle, Dead C is the founder/editor, as well as the principal writer and photographer, of Monster Fresh. Creating the site in 2007, he did so with a specific dream in mind. Unfortunately, being a muscle relaxer-fueled fever dream, it's hard to recall all of the details. "I remember that my mom was there, but it wasn't actually her in the dream, it was actually 70s heart throb, Jan Michael Vincent. And everything took place here, in this room... but it wasn't actually here... it was different. The colors were washed out and, for some reason, there was a raccoon kicking it with us and it was wearing a holographic monocle."

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