ANOTHER Yes ANOTHER Teacher Admits To Having Sex With A Student

In his 28 years with the Burbank Police Department, Sgt. Robert Quesada had never heard of anything quite like it: A well-respected teacher at one of the city’s public schools walks into police headquarters and confesses to having an affair with a 14-year-old boy.

With her attorney by her side, police say, Amy Victoria Beck told detectives the relationship with one of her former students began in March 2009 and continued until last December. She said it left her wracked with guilt.

“I can’t tell you that I remember anything like that ever happening before,” Quesada said of someone confessing to a crime when police had no idea a crime had even been committed.

“Burglars, robbers, criminal suspects, they don’t turn themselves in,” he said. “But when people are overwhelmed with guilt, and they have a conscience, I guess it makes them do what’s right.”

After hearing Beck’s story, detectives tracked down the boy, who is now a 15-year-old high school student. Quesada said he confirmed what she told them.

The 33-year-old teacher, who has been charged with five counts of engaging in sex acts with a person under 16, appeared briefly in court Wednesday before returning to jail. She is scheduled to be arraigned March 25 and faces as much as seven years in prison if convicted.

As she sits in jail, making no effort to post her $175,000 bail, according to her attorney, school officials say they are as stunned by the revelation as police were.

“I think the reason why people are in shock is because she was considered such a good, upstanding teacher,” said Gabe Soumakian, the Burbank Unified School District’s assistant superintendent. “I don’t think anyone has ever had a complaint about her.”

Beck, who Quesada said is married and the mother of three children, had taught school for several years in the Los Angeles suburb that is home to such major studios as Walt Disney and Warner Bros. She was teaching English and social science at David Starr Jordan Middle School until last week when she abruptly resigned. Soumakian said she told school officials she was moving out of state.

After learning she’d been arrested, officials sent psychologists to the school to counsel students.

Although teacher-student sex scandals make headlines and have been the subject of TV movies, USC sociologist Dorian Traube said evidence suggests they are actually quite rare. Quesada couldn’t immediately recall the last time one occurred in Burbank, a city of 100,000 that borders Los Angeles.

The most famous case is likely that of Mary Kay Letourneau, the Washington teacher who served seven years in prison for her affair with a student that began in the 1990s when he was 12 and she was 34. Letourneau, who has since married her former student Vili Fualaau, continues to capitalize on her notoriety, hosting a “Hot For Teacher” night at a Seattle bar last year.

Traube said there is often a double standard in such cases. Girls who become involved with their male teachers are sometimes thought of as sluts, she said, while a boy is sometimes hailed as the campus stud. But the emotional trauma for either sex, she added, can be just as devastating.

Both sexes are made to feel desirable when such an affair begins, Traube said, and then devastated when it ends. What’s more, they are being manipulated by people in authority who have control over their grades.

“It is still highly taboo and highly illegal,” she said of such relationships. “And it is appropriate that it be highly taboo.”

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