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Ex-Mount St. Mary teacher pleads guilty in sex-with-student case

By Gavin Lesnick

This article was originally published January 24, 2013 at 9:10 a.m. Updated January 24, 2013 at 11:01 a.m.

kelly-orourke

Kelly O'Rourke.

— A former Mount St. Mary Academy teacher and volleyball coach has pleaded guilty to a sexual assault charge tied to an inappropriate relationship with a student.

Kelly O'Rourke appeared before Pulaski County Circuit Judge Barry Sims on Thursday morning and entered the plea. O'Rourke received a 15-year suspended sentence and 120 days in jail.

O'Rourke, who was taken into custody after the hearing, was arrested last June on a charge of first-degree sexual assault.

She also must pay a series of fines, register as a sex offender, avoid contact with the victim and provide "truthful testimony" in the trial of co-defendant Kathy Griffin, a former guidance counselor at the school who is accused of failing to report the sexual relationship.

Prosecutors alleged that the sexual abuse continued from about January 2010 until the victim's graduation the next year.

Prosecutors said the plea deal did not include any prison time only because the victim insisted it not.

Among those in attendance at the brief hearing was Mount St. Mary Principal Diane Wolfe. She declined to comment on the sentencing.

Later Thursday morning, the school sent out a statement from President and Chief Executive Officer Karen Flake.

“Our prayers go out to all involved in this matter," Flake said. "Mount St. Mary Academy has complied fully with the police investigation regarding the actions of the former Mount St. Mary Academy staff member.

"We assure all in the community that the safety and protection of the young women entrusted to the school’s care is of paramount importance.”

Griffin is scheduled to go to trial next week, though her attorney said it's possible the case will be delayed. Defense attorney Jeff Rosenzweig said there is no possibility of a plea deal in that case because his client maintains that she did nothing wrong.

He said Griffin learned of the abuse after the victim was in college, at which point she was an adult and no longer a student at Mount St. Mary. That relieves the legal responsibility of reporting the crime, Rosenzewig said, though he said Griffin did ultimately inform authorities.

"She did report it," he said after O'Rourke's sentencing hearing, which he attended without Griffin. "But she had no legal obligation to report it. And if there's no obligation to report it, then there's no crime."

Rosenzweig said he will ask the judge to throw out the charges after the trial.

Comments on: Ex-Mount St. Mary teacher pleads guilty in sex-with-student case

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Displaying 1 - 9 of 9 total comments

rainbowharold55 says... January 24, 2013 at 10:08 a.m.

Teachers are apparently held to a different standard by the church than pedophile priests are.

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PenLR says... January 24, 2013 at 11:44 a.m.

I hope this is the new, higher standard for all people who take advantage of children.

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Capitalist12 says... January 24, 2013 at 11:48 a.m.

First-degree sexual assault to a minor and all she gets is 120 days in jail? Wow, there is clearly a double standard here. Imagine if this were a male teacher. Unbelievable.

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jetjohn says... January 24, 2013 at 12:19 p.m.

Rosenzewig is such a liberal!! He gets murderers off all the time!!! He does not believe in the death penalty and does not want it in the state of Arkansas. He is the reason this woman got such a light sentence!

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mhck52 says... January 24, 2013 at 12:33 p.m.

Jetjohn, can read and comprehend? Rosenzewig is Griffin's attorney, not O'Rourke's. The victim got her the lighter sentence. Read the article again, slowly. As for the school, maybe they should take "Mount" out of the name.

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Jean46 says... January 24, 2013 at 6:58 p.m.

Why is it when woman commits a sex crime she gets slap on the hand a man spends years in prison, I am of tried of this different standard

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ax says... January 25, 2013 at 9:55 a.m.

For comparison, Tim Ballard, former principal at Abuntant Life in Sherwood got 60 days in jail, 5 years probation, $1000 fine.

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evanspe12170820 says... January 26, 2013 at 11:25 p.m.

This is all so unfortunate. The "relationship" was most likely consensual and harmless until the parents of the then student found out about it and sought prosecution to "prove" that their little darling was not gay. The press has ruined the lives of the teachers and the student. Congratulations to the parents for nothing.

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SomewhereOverTheRainbow says... June 28, 2013 at 8:46 p.m.

Why are not there more Sisters running the school and teaching there? Sexual abuse at Mount Saint Mary Academy never happened there before this incident. The school should go back to the Sisters running the school and teaching the students. This incident is enough to make the angels cry.

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