Lincoln Park Middle School Teacher Pleads Guilty to 1st-Degree Criminal Sexual Conduct
On Friday, October 5, a former Lincoln Park Middle School teacher pleaded guilty to a felony charge of first-degree criminal sexual conduct, admitting to engaging in sex acts with a 15-year-old student over the course of roughly two weeks in May of this year.
33-year-old Karla Jean Winterfeld admitted to the charges in State District Court in front of Judge David Johnson. The guilty plea was not part of a plea agreement, and Winterfeld faces a presumptive 12-year prison sentence for the charges. However, her attorney may file a motion seeking a shorter sentence or probation.
Duluth police arrested Winterfeld on May 21. According to the criminal complaint, she admitted to sexual activity with the victim on several occasions between May 4 and May 19. Police also discovered video recordings, photographs, text messages, and other evidence related to the allegations.
Winterfeld will be sentenced on November 16.
Legal Recourse For Survivors of Teacher Sexual Abuse
Attorney contributor Brian Kent of AbuseGuardian.com helps survivors of sexual violence speak out and find justice for the trauma they’ve suffered. We’ve asked him to add some input into the legal options available to those who have been sexually abused by teachers and other school employees:
Our teachers are some of the most trusted members of our communities, as we rely on them to help our children learn new things and grow into successful adults. When a teacher or another school employee sexually abuses a student, this is a major violation of the public trust. It’s important for the survivors of these crimes, along with their families, to be aware of their legal rights.
In some cases, schools may be considered negligent for their failure to keep their students safe from sexual abuse. Examples of such negligence may include failing to respond to reports of sexual abuse in a timely manner, failing to run a background check before hiring a teacher with a history of sexual abuse, attempting to cover up sexual abuse, and more. When negligence is found to have played a role in a case of sexual abuse, the victim’s family may have grounds for a lawsuit against the school.
If your child has recently come forward with allegations of sexual abuse by a school employee, you can learn more about your family’s legal options by speaking to an experienced sexual abuse survivors lawyer.