Among Miss. Gov. Barbour pardons was teacher who had sex with boy

Biloxi Sun HeraldJanuary 12, 2012 

JACKSON COUNTY, Miss. — A former East Central High School teacher, Jennifer Joel Wilder, who pleaded guilty in 2007 to sexual battery of a student, is among those former Gov. Haley Barbour pardoned this week.

The governor granted Wilder a “full, complete and unconditional pardon.”

Jackson County District Attorney Tony Lawrence said he plans to review the details of Wilder’s pardon to determine if their office will contest it. Wilder pleaded guilty to sexual battery on April 7, 2007.

At her sentencing a month later, a judge forever stripped Wilder of her teacher’s license and placed her on five years probation. He ordered a 15-year suspended sentence, meaning she did not have to spend a day in jail for having sex with a 16-year-old student in 2004.

Wilder, Lawrence said at the time, was not sentenced to jail time at the request of the victim — just shy of his 17th birthday when he had sex with the teacher in 2004 — and his father.

At the sentencing, Lawrence told the judge, the family had “always indicated to me that they want her to surrender her teacher’s license, and they want her to have to register as a sex offender so she will never be placed in a position of having this occur again.”

With a pardon, Wilder would no longer have to meet those requirements.

Wilder had sex with the teen, authorities said, while she was in a position of trust or authority over him. However, the boy was not one of her students at the time.

“...The sexual relationship that existed between Ms. Wilder and (the boy) occurred as a result of (them living next door to each other),” Lawrence said at the sentencing.

Lawrence also pointed out earlier that the teacher and student never had sex on school property and both readily admitted the relationship when police first questioned them.

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