Former Tacoma teacher pleads guilty to sex acts with underage students

TACOMA -- A 25-year-old former Lincoln High School teacher pleaded guilty Wednesday to having engaged in sex acts with two students and texting nude photos to a third student.

Meredith Powell, a former math teacher, pleaded guilty in Pierce County Superior Court to two counts of third-degree child rape and one count of communicating with a minor for immoral purposes.

Sentencing was set for Aug. 29.

She faces a standard sentencing range of three years, 10 months to five years in prison on the charges, but her attorney told The News Tribune of Tacoma that lawyers would recommend she be sentenced to six months in jail and three years of sex offender treatment.

Powell was arrested in February, shortly after the Tacoma School District got an anonymous tip that she was engaging in sexual contact with several students. She resigned shortly after her arrest.

On Wednesday, she admitted she had engaged in sex acts with two boys between the ages of 14 and 16 who were students at Lincoln High School.

According to court documents, the mother of an 18-year-old student at the high school told police her son confessed to having sexual contact with Powell in the 2012-2013 school year as the initial allegations against Powell came to light.

The male student told his mother he went to Powell's classroom when he was a 17-year-old junior in the 2012-13 school year for some "extra help with math" after class, court documents show.

Powell allegedly gave the student extra math problems and sat at the corner of his desk while he worked on the problems. Toward the end of the session, the student told Powell he would do anything to help get his grade up in math, as he was struggling in Powell's class.

Powell allegedly asked, "You'll do anything?" And then reached over and unzipped the student's pants. Powell grabbed the student's groin and engaged in a sexual act, documents said.

After the incident, Powell allegedly told the student, "This stays between us."

The student's mother told police she noticed behavioral changes in her son following the incident, and the son even requested to change schools during his junior year.