EAGLE RIVER - A 41-year-old Northwoods woman will go to prison for three years for having sex with a teenager younger than 16 years old. Jody Shepherd was sentenced in Vilas County court Monday.
She had met the teenager as a special education teaching assistant at North Lakeland School in Manitowish Waters.
Shepherd was originally charged with two felony counts of 2nd Degree Sexual Assault of Child. She agreed to a deal to plead no contest to one felony charge.
According to court documents, the incident happened in June 2013 outside of school. The teenager wasn't a student at the school at the time of the incident. The Vilas County Sheriff's Office started investigating Shepherd in October 2013.
The boy's father, who we won't name to protect the victim's identity, said he felt sorry for Shepherd in court Monday.
"But I feel much worse for the children," the father said. "It's not fair, and shame on you."
Court discussion showed that Shepherd had claimed she was the victim and was raped. However, Vilas County Circuit Judge Neal Nielson said that the evidence didn't support that claim.
Meanwhile, the boy's mother, who we won't name to protect the victim's identity, said the offense still impacts her.
"I would like her [Shepherd] to understand how I feel," the mother said. "It is the worst betrayal. I have awakened several times in the middle of the night in terror telling myself this couldn't happen, and then realizing it did."
In court, Nielson said it was difficult to choose the exact sentence for the case. The maximum sentence for the felony charge was 40 years in prison. Shepherd had never been arrested, and had no criminal record before this case. However, Shepherd did plead no contest to the felony charge, and Nielson said the incident is just as serious as it would be if genders were flipped.
"Why should that be different? It doesn't do justice to any notion of the harm that's actually caused to the child victim," Nielson said.
Shepherd will then spend three years on extended supervision when she gets released. Shepherd will also need to register as a sex offender.