Photo by WJFW Newswatch 12
Former Rhinelander teacher charged after sexual assault claims
Story By Georgina Fernandez
Local News Published 04/01/2021 10:05PM, Last Updated 04/01/2021 11:07PM
Rhinelander - 39-year-old Stephanie Pudlowski, a former James Williams Middle School teacher in the school district of Rhinelander, was convicted of one count of sexual assault of a student by school staff. The victim was former student of hers, who she was fostering back in May of 2020.
Pudlowski originally faced two other charges as well, including a 3rd-degree sexual assault charge that was dropped in October 2020. Thursday, Judge Michael H. Bloom additionally dropped the charge of sexual intercourse with someone 16 years and older.
"My wife is a school teacher. I know how much of a person's heart and soul goes into the day-to-day week-to-week work that a teacher is required to do," Judge Bloom, from Oneida County, said. "I am sure Pudlowski acted as such when she was teaching."
The state argued that moving forward with parole would be the best fit for Pudlowski.
"For all intents and purposes, [she] is a mother, she was a wife. She has no prior conviction history. She is educated. She's involved in the community. She has done all the right things," Michael Schiek, the prosecuting attorney, said. "For those reasons probation is appropriate."
"He seemed affected by it," Schiek said, referring to the victim. "He wasn't emotional in a sense where he broke down, but reading his body language and the way he talked to me, I think it did affect him. I don't know if we'll ever know what he had to go through."
The state asked the court to sentence Pudlowski to 12 months in jail and a 500 dollar fine. While the defense argued for no jail time, claiming that Pudlowski was undergoing mental health treatment.
"Between popular culture from country music songs to prime time TV, women in our culture are taught sex is a gift from women to men. Not a harm. Not a burden. Not damage.," Nila Robinson, the defense attorney, said. "Really for Stephani Pudlowski, like most women in sex offender treatment, recognizing that popular culture is wrong, that young men are vulnerable and confusion in relationships, and that there are responsible for that. And that is hard. That's a piece of work that she has done and she can talk about that."
Judge Bloom requested that Pudlowski continue seeking medical treatment.
"It appears that some sort of emotions attachment to this former student arose at some point, and certain kinds of emotional entanglements, with or without any form of sexual component can complicate situations," Judge Bloom said.
Judge Bloom sentenced her to an eight-month jail sentence, with probation and no fines.
"It appears that Ms. Pudlowski and her former husband...that the estrangement between the defendant and her spouse or former spouse, had something to do with this," Judge Bloom said. "The particular set of circumstances that led to this happening are unlikely to reoccur, and for a variety of other reasons I don't believe that the public or anybody else needs fear a similar situation arising again in the future involving Ms. Pudlowski."