A teenage girl who had a sexual relationship with a former teacher has professed her love to the woman in court.
On Wednesday, during the sentencing of Jennifer Walsh, 27 — a former special education teacher — the female student insisted the relationship was consensual as she explained she was "completely in love" with the woman.
The student, who was 17 years old when she engaged in sex acts with Walsh last year, told a judge she never "felt forced or coerced" in their sexual relationship, the Cincinnati Enquirer reports.
"I know in my heart that I am completely in love with this woman, without a doubt," the student told Hamilton County Judge Jody Luebbers, adding their romance was "willing, on both ends".
Walsh, a former teacher at Sycamore High in Cincinnati, Ohio who was also a girls junior varsity lacrosse coach, resigned in October 2018, three days after a report was made to Montgomery Police.
According to the Cincinnati Enquirer, Walsh had become emotional and cried in court as the student testified.
Montgomery Police Detective Steve Hoy said the case was different from other teacher-student relationships he'd investigated, adding the circumstances surrounding the pair were "unique" and their mutual affection was "genuine".
"This relationship, I believe, was actually real," Detective Hoy told the judge. "It will probably continue to be real."
The judge, who also heard from Walsh's mother on Wednesday, delayed the sentencing, saying: "I just need … more time."
Walsh pleaded guilty in June to gross sexual imposition and faces up to 18 months in jail.
She originally faced two counts of sexual battery, but the charges were reduced in a plea deal.