The sentencing hearing for Laura Cowen was held Feb. 17 with Judge Norm Russell presiding. Cowen was charged with two counts of rape in the second degree in 2013. She was represented by defense attorney Ken Sue Doerfel of Lawton.
Cowen was a teacher in the Tipton School district when she had relationships with two male students who were both seniors at the time. She pleaded no contest at a previous hearing.
The assistant district attorney recommended a sentence of 10 years for each count with five years suspended, a $500 fine for each count, 12 months of supervision upon release and a lifetime on the sex offender registry.
Cowen relinquished her teaching certificate in 2013 and she will not be allowed to obtain another teaching certificate and she must abide by all of the rules set forth by the sex offender registry. Cowen’s home is currently on the market because it is too close to a school.
Doerfel said that Cowen is not a sexual predator, and that the psychological evaluation of Cowen supported that statement. She also said that Cowen has taken full responsibility for her actions and has shown full remorse and that she is already going to be punished for the rest of her life because of the severe restrictions put on her due to being on the sex offender registry.
“She’s been punished severely already,” Doerfel said. “She’s lost her livelihood, she’s caused her family pain and embarrassment and she’ll spend the rest of her life on the sex offender registry. These weren’t boys. They were men over 18. Neither of them has been involved in this case. Neither of them showed up for preliminary hearings to testify and one of them was retrieved with the help of the drug task force and brought back to testify.”
Doerfel went on to say that these were men, not children but because of this unfair statute, they have the right to be victims. She recommended that Cowen be given probation.
The judge said that whether or not these victims were traumatized or not is irrelevant. She was in a position of authority and there should be proper punishment.
“We have a violation of trust and the law,” Russell said. “Didn’t a red light go off? There were multiple times, I think six with one and three with the other. If it were one time and she realized it was stupid and it didn’t happen again, it’d be different.”
“My job is to determine what is the appropriate sentence,” Russell said. “This isn’t someone who is a sexual predator. What is going to change if I sentence her to 15 years in jail? She’s shown remorse for her actions. This is someone who had a bad period of thinking and that can’t be ignored.”
Russell sentenced Cowen to 15 years with all but one year suspended for each count and those will be served concurrently. She was remanded to the Tillman County Jail and was transported by a sheriff’s deputy after the sentencing. She was also ordered to pay $500 to each victim as well as the court costs and jail costs. She will also be supervised by the Department of Corrections for a year upon her release.
Reach Kathleen Guill at 580-379-0588, ext. 2602.