Former teacher, coach gets two years in prison for sex assault of Oconto Falls student in 2013

Green Bay Press Gazette [Green Bay WI]

April 20, 2021

By Kent Tempus

A former substitute teacher at Oconto Falls High School was sentenced to two years in prison for engaging in a sexual relationship with a student she coached.

Brynn Larsen, 31, will then serve five years on extended supervision, Judge Michael T. Judge decided.

“There’s no question in my mind that you abused your position of trust and authority as a teacher …,” Judge said Tuesday during sentencing. “There’s no way to say it other than that, and for that, there has to be a consequence.”

Larsen, an Oconto Falls native who was a star athlete at the school, worked there as a substitute teacher with the Oconto Falls School District from 2013 to 2018, and as an assistant coach for the volleyball team.

Acting on an anonymous tip, Oconto Falls police investigated whether Larsen and a then 15-year-old girl were involved in a sexual relationship in May 2014. The student and Larsen denied it, although they acknowledged they were close friends and shared a bed when the student stayed over, according to the criminal complaint.

However, the victim said in the complaint they had sex every time she stayed over at Larsen’s home and in the coach’s car.

The student — now a 22-year-old woman — came forward two years ago after counseling and after seeing a newspaper article about Larsen working as a full-time teacher at a Catholic school in Green Bay.

Flanked by two friends, the victim spoke in court for about 20 minutes about the impact of the relationship, including feelings of guilt, depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress.

“(Larsen) preyed on my vulnerability in the very outlet I could trust her most,” she said. “She took advantage of her authority and abused her powers and privileges as a coach.”

“I have been paying the price for Brynn’s misguided sexual gratification and blatant disregard for the law for the last 7½ years, and unfortunately will be the rest of my life,” she said.

As part of a plea agreement, Larsen pleaded no contest in February to third-degree sexual assault, which was amended from a charge of repeated sexual assault of a child.

Brynn Larson. Photo courtesy of Oconto County Jail.
Brynn Larson. Photo courtesy of Oconto County Jail.

Charges of sexual assault of a child under age 16 and child enticement, as well as a second child enticement charge were both considered by Judge at sentencing and dismissed.

District Attorney Edward Burke, saying Larsen “made a conscious decision to act,” recommended two years in prison followed by five years of extended supervision.

Defense attorney Brian Maloney said that Larsen has no history of crime or substance abuse and had worked full time since her arrest.

He noted there was no basis for the victim’s references to Larsen as a “predator” and “pedophile.”

“This wasn’t a situation where it’s just a conquest of many minors and that’s just what she does,” he said.

Maloney asked Judge to consider probation with up to a year in jail, as her treatment needs won’t be met in prison.

Larsen told Judge she understood the severity of her crimes and took full responsibility for her relationship with the girl.

Referring to her by name, Larsen told her: “I am truly sorry that I hurt you. I regret my actions and what I did. It was never my intention to hurt you. No words can express how truly sorry I am.”

Judge noted Larsen’s good employment record and academic achievements, but added that as an educated person, he would expect her to understand her responsibilities.

“Your conduct in this case, Brynn, was not a mistake,” Judge said. “Your conduct here was a bad decision. You knew what you were doing. It was intentional.”