A high school English teacher has been accused of having unprotected sex with a 17-year-old student. Authorities say that Caroline Lawson aka Meg Lawson, 29, sexually assaulted a student at her apartment on November 1. Lawson is an English teacher at Earl J. Jennard High School in Ruskin, Florida. The town is around 30 miles south of Tampa. WFTS reports, citing the arrest affidavit, that the pair did not use a condom. In a statement, the Hillsborough County Public Schools said that Lawson has resigned from her position in the district.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Lawson Apparently Told a Friend, ‘I Cheated on Jameson… With a Student’
WFTS reports that after allegedly engaging in sex with the student, Lawson texted a friend saying, “I cheated on Jameson, with a student.” That person replied saying, “When you say cheated, do you mean slept with?” To which Lawson responded, “Yes.” The station says that when the student was questioned by authorities he was able to provide Lawson’s age and full name to them.
The Tampa Bay Times reports that in addition to intercourse, “the boy also performed a sex act on Lawson.”
2. Lawson Won an Award in College for an Essay Titled, The Secret
On her Facebook and LinkedIn page, Lawson goes by the name Meg Lawson. Her arrest record gives her full name as Caroline Meg Lawson. According to her LinkedIn page, Lawson is a graduate of the University of Tampa where she was an honor student and a member of the English and Writing Honor Society. In 2008, while a sophomore at the school, Lawson won the Wordsmith Award for her essay, The Secret. Lawson graduated in 2012 with a degree in English and communications.
Since leaving the University of Tampa, Lawson worked as a substitute teacher at Pepin Academies, a charter school in Tampa, for one year. In 2014, Lawson joined the Hillsborough County Public School system.
Lawson is engaged to a man named Jameson Wilkins, according to post on her Facebook page. He works as a web and graphic designer.
3. Lawson Could Be Facing at Least 5 Years in Prison
WFTS reports that Lawson was arrested at 3 a.m. on November 3. Lawson was booked at Hillsborough County Jail on two counts of unlawful sexual activity with a child. Later that morning, Lawson posted a $30,000 bail and was released. The school district’s full statement read:
We are deeply disappointed by these charges. The safety of our students is our top priority. We are working with law enforcement as they investigate. This employee has resigned her position with the district.
Lawson’s profile has been removed from the school directory.
4. Her Arrest Comes Just After Another Florida Woman Was Accused of Having Sex With a Minor
Online records show that Heather Bard was arrested on October 31 and charged with sexual assault by a 24-year-old or older and sexual battery on a victim as well as contributing to the delinquency or dependency of a minor. Bard was bailed out of prison on November 1 following an appearance in court where her bond had been set at $15,500.
The Orlando Sentinel reports that it was the boy’s father who discovered Facebook messages between Bard and his son. The messages, which were on the boy’s tablet, discussed a night where the pair had drunk alcohol and apparently engaged in “sexual acts,” according to the Sentinel.
5. Female Educators Make Up a Small Fraction Teacher/Student Sexual Assault Convictions
Slate reported that female educators make up 4 percent of convicted rapists in teacher/student scandals in 2006. While in 2016, former Department of Education chief of staff, Terry Abbott, wrote in the Washington Post that teacher/student sex scandals were on the rise. For example, in Kentucky in 2011, the state saw the number of teacher/student sexual relationships nearly double.