Former Ripon High School teacher sentenced for sex assault

RIPON, Wis. (WBAY) - A former Ripon High School teacher who pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting a student could avoid time behind bars if she follows the court's orders.

Samantha Marco, formerly Samantha Fitzpatrick, was sentenced Friday to six months in jail and three years on probation. But the judge stayed the jail time to use "at discretion of Court" if she fails to follow the recommendations of counseling and treatment.

Marco will also have to register as a sex offender, and the judge said she needs to make reasonable efforts to get and keep a full-time job or schooling.

According to a criminal complaint, in April 2017 police were tipped off about an inappropriate relationship between a high school teacher and a 17-year-old student.

As police investigated, a teacher told them she heard rumors from another student that a boy claimed he had sex with Marco at her home. A student told investigators the boy claimed he and Marco had "done stuff" at a hotel in Ripon.

Marco denied having an inappropriate relationship with the student or contacting him on social media, but investigators found 67 phone calls from the victim's phone to Marco and Facebook messages between them over a 7-month period, including what one officer described as "sexually graphic messages."

Marco was also charged with child enticement, exposing a child to harmful materials, and obstructing an officer, but those charges were dismissed as part of a plea deal.

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