‘Free Powell’: The Facebook Page Defending A Math Teacher Accused of Third-Degree Rape

By now you know the story of Meredith Powell - the 24-year-old Tacoma high school math teacher charged with two counts of third-degree child rape and one count of communication with a minor for immoral purposes. According to charging documents filed by the Pierce County Prosecutor’s Office last week, Powell has admitted to performing oral sex on a 15-year-old student, letting another 15-year-old student fondle her breasts and vagina, and sending inappropriate Snapchat photos to a third student, age 17. Powell pleaded not guilty last week and was released on personal recognizance. Following her arrest, the Tacoma School District placed Powell on unpaid administrative leave.

All of the salacious accusations against Powell are a matter of public record, and - as one would expect - the court of public opinion has been quick to weigh in. The Internet has exploded with Mary Kay Letourneau comparisons, and the news that Powell was released - pending trial - without so much as having to come up with bail only further infuriated many people. The common perception: If this had been a man, instead of a young, attractive white woman, it probably would have taken more than a heartfelt “my bad” to get her out of lockup.

That said, some have come to Powell’s defense. In particular, a Facebook page presumably launched by some of Powell’s Lincoln High School students has already garnered 537 “likes” and counting. The “Free Powell” page’s “About” statement is short and sweet: “This is a site supporting Miss. Powell from Lincoln High School. Negative comments are NOT welcome and WILL be deleted.”

So what are those defending Powell saying? Here’s a sampling:

On Feb. 8 the “Free Powell” page posted:

I’m almost sure the students involved were not traumatized considering they could have

1. Said no and left.

2. Report it immediately after.

But neither of those happened and it wasn’t even the any of the victims that went forward and reported it, it was the victims girlfriend after getting an apology note from Powell.

Also on Feb. 8:

People continue to say that this page is only up because Powell is a woman and they claim it would be a different story if the offender was a male but that is not true, this has nothing to do with gender.

Also on Feb. 8:

Also, this page was not made for her because she is “hot” looking. Most of us are/were who students who shared our stories with her and got to know her. No one saw this coming, we all noticed the boys always hitting her but we never would have guessed she would have done anything.

A Facebook user chimes in:

She’s not another MaryKay Laterneau because if you ever even read that news story properly that women was 34, and her student was 13, whom she also ended up marrying and having two children with. Now we’re going way off topic because what Meredith did wasn’t that extreme. So she sent a few flirty texts? It’s the 21st century, technology is a big thing in our world were you not aware? Doing it in the classroom? Now that’s every teen boys fantasy with an attractive young teacher. I think it was awesome that Meredith confessed and was honest about the actions she did rather then to lie about it. Also the thing I find the most ironic about this situation is it was glorified all because of the media. Oh a school teacher? God forbid! There are two sides to every story, also it takes two to tango. I’m not saying that makes her less guilty but it doesn’t make up for the fact that huge age gaps having sexual contact happens every single day and not a single thing is done about it. I’m not saying it makes it right by any means. Humans aren’t perfect, we all make mistakes. ...

Feel free to add your own two cents on Powell and her defenders in the comments section below. It’s safe to assume this story isn’t going away anytime soon.

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