KENOSHA — A judge reversed course last week, reinstating charges against a former LakeView Technology Academy teacher who admitted showing a student a photograph of a partially nude man the teacher was dating.
Meiranda Patterson, 26, of Kenosha, was charged in November with exposing a child to harmful material.
According to the criminal complaint, Patterson is alleged to have shown a 14-year-old student the photo, which shows the man from his shoulders to the top of his thighs, including a portion of his pubic area, after the girl asked the teacher about the man while they chatted at an after-school event. The girl later told school administration about the incident.
On Jan. 15, Kenosha County Circuit Judge Bruce Schroeder dismissed the charges against Patterson. He said that while it was appropriate that she be fired, the state had not met the standard of showing that the photograph was criminal behavior.
On Feb. 3, Schroeder said he had made an error in that ruling, bringing Patterson back to court on his own motion to reconsider.
He said that after his ruling in January, he looked at the court record “and I realized I made a series of errors.”
Schroeder said that when he made his initial ruling, he believed the court commissioner who bound Patterson over for trial after a preliminary hearing in November had not been given a copy of the photograph.
Schroeder said he believed that the commissioner made his ruling that there was probable cause in the case based on an officer’s description of the photograph, not the photograph itself.
In fact, the commissioner was shown the photograph, Schroeder said Monday.
The judge said he also reconsidered his view of the photograph.
Schroeder said when he dismissed the case, he had seen only a black-and-white copy of the photograph. Afterward, he said, he saw the color photograph the student saw.
“I have to say, (the color photograph) looks very different to me than the black-and-white,” he said.
Defense attorney Terry Rose argued Monday that Schroeder’s initial ruling was correct.
“I don’t think black-and-white or color makes any difference,” Rose said. “What was shown was not obscene.”
Rose argued that the photograph was no more explicit than photographs commonly available in “everyday popular culture.”
Schroeder said the standard under the charge was not whether the photograph was obscene, but whether it was acceptable material to show children.
“It’s for the jury to decide,” he said.
The judge vacated his earlier decision and denied the original defense motion to dismiss the case.
Patterson is now scheduled to go to trial March 16. If convicted, Patterson could face up to 18 months in prison and two years of extended supervision.
Patterson was a special education teacher at LakeView, 9449 88th Ave., Pleasant Prairie, beginning in August 2015. She was placed on leave immediately after the school learned of the incident and was terminated on Dec. 17, according to a spokeswoman for the Kenosha Unified School District.
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