'He seduced you': Married housewife who had sex with boy, 14, walks free from court after judge's extraordinary ruling
By Paul SimsLast updated at 3:43 AM on 14th October 2008
Sharon Edwards pleaded guilty to four charges of sexual activity with a child and offering to supply Class A drugs
A judge caused outrage yesterday after he refused to jail a woman who had sex with a 14-year-old boy and instead told her: 'He seduced you.'
Sharon Edwards, 40, bombarded the boy with as many as 50 text messages and emails a day, offered to buy him cocaine and regularly lured him into her bed.
Yet she walked free from court yesterday after Judge Peter Fox QC said the married housewife was an unhappy woman who was unable to resist the advances of a child.
'You had been a very unhappy lady for a very considerable period of time when this 14-year-old boy seduced you, and not you him, both so far as sexual matters and drugs are concerned,' he said.
Her eight-year marriage to a luxury car sales tycoon was falling apart, she felt trapped and lonely and was flattered by the attention the boy was paying her, Teesside Crown Court heard.
But last night the boy's mother attacked the judge's decision. She said: 'He's still a child. If this had been a man he would almost certainly have been jailed but instead she gets to walk free and pick up her life.
'She still lives round here and can now do whatever she wants and go wherever she wants. It's outrageous. I can't believe what's happened.'
Edwards, a mother of two, admitted having sex with the boy on four separate occasions between September last year and January and yesterday was given a 12-month jail term, suspended for two years.
She also pleaded guilty to offering to supply the teenager a Class A drug. The boy, who cannot be named, was a pupil at the same school her two sons attend when the relationship began.
They stayed in contact through text messages and emails and on one occasion Edwards took him to her sister's empty home for a night of sex.
But in January her suspicious husband, Mark, 43, discovered scores of emails she had sent to and received from the boy.
He confronted her at their £500,000 home in Stockton, Teesside, before contacting the youngster's mother.
Judge Fox: 'Exceptional case'
Tina Dempster, prosecuting, said the boy later broke down in tears when his mother asked him if the allegations were true. She then called the police.
'He was crying,' said Miss Dempster. 'He told her he was sorry but he did not know how to stop it. He was extremely distressed, saying that his life was over and he might as well die now.
'The next day he was interviewed by the police and he confirmed that he had had a crush on her and that they had sexual intercourse the previous night.'
Miss Dempster said that Mr Edwards first became suspicious in October last year after discovering that his wife was sending and receiving up to 50 text messages a day from the same number. Despite a blossoming property empire and a successful car sales business, their marriage was struggling to survive.
They had decided to make a go of it but by the end of October Mr Edwards was convinced his wife was having an affair. He confronted her about his suspicions but she denied it.
On January 18 he accessed his wife's MSN messaging programme and changed the settings so that all the sent messages would be saved.
'The next morning he checked the messages and he realised that the person with whom she was having a sexual relationship was the boy,' said Miss Dempster.
In one of the messages the boy asked her to buy some cocaine. She agreed and then said he would not need to pay her.
Deborah Sherwin, defending Edwards, said her client had pleaded guilty because she did not want her young victim to have to give evidence in court.
She added: 'She was a sad and lonely housewife, she was not working, her parents had moved abroad, she was stuck at home, her marriage was failing and this boy paid her attention and she was flattered by it.'
Judge Fox QC described the case as ' exceptional' before telling Edwards he would not be sending her to jail because the boy had seduced her, and not the other way round. 'Of course, you have responsibility as an adult to reject his advances in both regards,' he added.
Last night Claude Knights, director of children's charity Kidscape, said: 'This sentence sets an awful precedent. The judge seems to be suggesting that in some way this is all down to the victim.
'But how on earth can he be regarded as responsible for what happened? He is just a child. He may look mature and he may even be sexually active but he is still a child and this is still abuse.'
Diana Sutton, head of policy at the NSPCC, said: 'It is unacceptable to describe the child victim in this case as the seducer. This gives out completely the wrong message - that sex abuse is the fault of the child, when in reality it never is.'
Edwards was ordered to register as a sex offender for five years.
I am positively floored.
Imagine, for a moment, that the genders are reversed and we are dealing with a 40 year old married man and a 14 year old girl, all other conditions remaining the same. The public outrage would be deafening. The man would be a sick and vile pervert and I can guarantee you he'd be sitting in jail right now. Now, imagine, after having purchased drugs for the girl and having engaged in a sexual relationship with her, the judge told the man that it wasn't his fault, he was lonely and in an unhappy marriage.....this 14 year old girl had seduced him....she was to blame.
Can you even fathom such an event?
Of course, reverse the genders back, and not only is the woman walking away scot-free, but the judge actually has the audacity to place the blame upon the 14 year old boy. I happen to have a 14 year old son and the thought of him seducing anyone, let alone a 40 year old woman, is nothing less than laughable. This has got to be one of the most disgusting rulings yet. A 14 year old boy is now more culpable in a sexual relationship then a 40 year old woman?
I find it interesting that while feminism was supposed to empower women and help them to achieve their highest potential, all I've seen in a feminist society is the status of women becoming closer and closer to that of children. This is the pinnacle of womanhood? Our shining moment in history? When women are so egregiously unaccountable for their behavior it becomes painfully clear that, truly, the age of empowered women will be remembered as anything but our proudest moment.