Ex-Cobb teacher sentenced to prison for sex with student

A former Cobb County high school orchestra teacher pleaded guilty to having a sexual relationship with a student and was sentenced to two years in prison.

Steve Parkman, 35, has insisted since he was charged in April 2008 that his relationship with the-17-year-old Harrison High School student was consensual. The age of consent in Georgia is 16.  He was 32 when arrested. But, on Thursday, Parkman pleaded guilty to cruelty to children and sexual battery.

After he has served two years in prison, Parkman will have another eight years to serve on probation. He has already surrendered his teaching certificate, according to Channel 2 Action News.

The student’s father told Channel 2 after the sentencing that his daughter agreed with the punishment.

“It’s good to bring closure at this time and to forgive and forget,” he said.

The father said his daughter was getting counseling.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution does not identify victims of a sex crime and naming the father could indirectly identify her.

The Parkman case and another one in Cobb were the reason the Georgia Legislature changed state law this year to make it a crime for teachers to have intimate relationships with students. The Georgia Supreme Court ruled more than a year ago that a teacher could use a student’s consent as a defense to sexual assault charges.

In the second case that was at the center of this debate, a Cobb County judge tossed out charges against former Marietta High School English and journalism teacher Christopher King after a 17-year-old student admitted their relationship was consensual. Superior Court Judge Robert Flournoy said the teacher-student relationship was "gross" and "awful," but it was not illegal.