Thursday, November 19, 2015

JHS teacher convicted of sex crimes to husband: What's wrong with me?

Two weeks from tomorrow, Jessica Low will receive her freedom.

Jasper County Circuit Court Judge David Dally signed papers approving her release on December 3 after she served 120 days of shock prison time after pleading guilty July 20 to statutory rape and sexual contact with a student. Low was sentenced to four years in prison on each charge, but was enrolled in the Sexual Offenders Assessment Unit program, which means after she completed the required program, she was eligible to be released.

In a letter to Judge Dally, Low's husband, Rhett Low, detailed the steps his wife had taken to turn her life around following her arrest.

The first thing Jessica said to me after she posted bond was to ask me to help her find out what's wrong with her, how she was able to act the way she did and make the judgment and thinking errors that led to her arrest and help her get well.

Low immediately sought therapy, her husband said, adding that she was suffering from chronic depression, changing moods, sleeplessness, over concern over others' opinions of her, low self-esteem, and body issues.

For as long as I've known her, she was different than most. She had a depression issue, an insecurity issue that could consume her at times and switch back to confidence and happiness over the course of a month. She was at time emotionally unstable, yet seemed to function so it was left alone.

Her husband said that Low had an "undiagnosed and untreated bipolar disorder in the school environment (which) was the catalyst for her behavior. She will never teach or be in that environment again."

The behavior her husband referred to was outlined in the Joplin Police Department's probable cause affidavit:

On May 28, 2014, it was reported by the Joplin School District that they had received an anonymous complaint that Jessica Low, a Joplin High School teacher, had sent nude images of herself to a Joplin 10th grade student, identified as 16-year-old "IF (date of birth omitted) via cellular telephone.

School district staff reported the incident to the Joplin Police Department. The affiant contacted IF's father regarding the complaint. The father admitted that he had witnessed the nude images of Jessica Low on his son's cell phone on May 25, 2014.

The father further stated that he had spoken to his son and his son's 16-year-old male friend about Low sending the nude pictures of herself. The 16-year-old friend is identified as "MS" (date of birth omitted) . MS volunteered that he had also observed the nude images of Low and had also had sexual intercourse with Low.

IF also admitted that he had witnessed the nude images of Low and also had sexual intercourse with Low. IF's father admitted that he had witnessed the nude images of Jessica Low on his son's cell phone while at their Joplin residence.

During later interviews with police, the student said that on May 19, Low followed him home from school and they had sex on the living room floor. They did the same thing the next day, the student said.

These acts were the result of her mental condition, Low's husband told Dally:

When my wife Jessica committed her acts, she was not a malicious or deviant person; she was a very mentally ill person caught in the grips of a bipolar manic depressive state known as mania.

The treatment she has received has changed Jessica Low, her husband wrote.

Watching her regain control of her emotional state has made me so very proud of her. I can say with conviction that Jessica is a different person now than she was. She thinks clearly, she makes good decisions, she sleeps well every night, she thinks about consequences and she's extremely filled with guilt and sorrow for her past actions which she takes full responsibility for and lives with the guilt of its impact on everyone every day.

Low said his wife had also been diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) stemming from "abuse she suffered as a child and the prison environment is very harsh for someone with that condition."

He stressed that for the sake of his wife and for their daughter, who turns nine this month, that Dally "allow her to continue her path to wellness."

Jessica Low taught communication arts at Joplin High School for two years and worked at the high school for three years.

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