TOMBALL, Texas – A former Tomball Independent School District teacher accused of sexually assaulting a former student in 2021 was sentenced on Tuesday.
Marka Bodine pleaded guilty to aggravated sexual abuse of a child under 14. Harris County District Court Judge Greg Glass sentenced her to 60 days in jail, but not immediately because she recently had a baby. Court documents show she has until June 5, 2023, to report to jail.
She’ll be on probation for 10 years and must also register as a sex offender for life. The baby is not the child of her victim, authorities said.
“There are certain types of cases that, in my opinion, really should only warrant punishment, and that is this kind of case,” said Harris County Prosecutor Janna Oswald, chief of the Crimes Against Children Division. “I’m heartbroken for the complainant and his family. I’m really disappointed in the outcome as a prosecutor – a child abuse prosecutor, and I’m disappointed as a citizen of Harris County.”
Prosecutors asked the judge for a minimum sentence of 20 years, but the crime could have been punished by up to life in prison.
“The complainant is incredibly strong and he’s gone through a lot. He got up on the stand in this punishment case and he told his truth, he told everything that happened to him and that takes so much bravery,” Oswald said. “He was incredibly upset. He left the courtroom in the middle of the judge declaring a sentence because he was, he and his mother were very upset with the outcome.”
Bodine’s defense attorney said Judge Glass made the right decision in the case.
“The court weighed in on all facts presented regarding the offense conduct as well as any mitigating factors. No case is like another and not every case deserves prison. The court has the obligation to make findings of what is in the best interest of society as well as the victim in determining the sentence and we believe the Judge followed the law and handed down an appropriate punishment,” Bodine’s defense attorney Dustan Neyland wrote in a statement to KPRC 2.
According to court documents, the inappropriate relationship came to light last year after Bodine notified the school principal at Tomball Intermediate School that she was being harassed by a former student. Bodine told the principal that the 16-year-old boy was making threats to hurt himself and had gotten access to her private photographs and manipulated images of her.
Investigators said a search of both Bodine’s phone and the boy’s phone showed several messages and images that were exchanged between them. Some of the images were sexually explicit in nature.
When questioned, the boy told investigators that Bodine befriended him by playing an online video game and later began texting him, according to the affidavit. He said the two began exchanging explicit images and had sex shortly after he turned 13. Their relationship continued for the next three years.
The boy told authorities that Bodine moved into his apartment complex after her divorce and that the two had sex in her classroom and her car several times, according to the affidavit.
Investigators said that Bodine eventually admitted to having a sexual relationship with the former student and sending explicit images and videos.
“It’s really hard to wrap our minds around why someone would do such a thing, but evil exists in the world,” said Tomball ISD parent Jennifer Kratky, whose daughter was in Bodine’s class at the time of her arrest. “It’s even now more upsetting to find out that she was given this ridiculously light sentence.”
Kratky announced her run for Tomball ISD School Board earlier this week. She doesn’t blame the district for Bodine’s actions and believes the district handled the situation properly when it happened, but she does believe the district missed an opportunity to engage parents.
She suggested Tomball ISD provide internet safety and social media grooming awareness training and found someone to provide the training, but said the district ignored that suggestion.
“I want to increase safety in our schools by increasing parent involvement, increasing parent engagement,” she said. “A lot of parents just don’t know how common this type of crime is.”