WARNING: Graphic content about sexual abuse.
It started with a dare.
"You don't have the balls," Monica Young told her 14-year-old student as she provoked him to give her a hug inside a Sydney school classroom.
Today, Young sits in a prison where she will remain until at least October 30, 2023.
The disgraced former teacher was this week jailed after she pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting a teenage student across a one-month period last year.
At the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020, classes and communications between students and teachers were forced online.
But the messages between Young and her teenage victim soon took a sinister turn.
She tearfully said she regretted abusing the boy, a mistake for which she will spend at least two years and five months in prison.
In January last year, Young was employed at the school as a casual teacher.
Two months later, she received an offer of a fulltime role as a physical education and social sciences teacher.
She was only qualified in physical education and had no credentials to teach geography and science.
At the time, Young was 23 and engaged to be married.
The court heard she described her relationship with her fiance as toxic, saying he would attend nightclubs, abuse drugs, and sleep with other women.
When Young confronted her fiance about a dating app she found on his phone, he physically assaulted her, Judge Kate Traill said.
While in this relationship, she began conversing with her 14-year-old student online.
Because of online schooling, teachers had to provide students with a way of contacting them via phone or online apps.
It was against this backdrop that Young began to groom the young boy.
At first, they exchanged messages over Instagram.
On her Instagram account, which is still present on the social media platform, her profile photo depicts her with her then-fiance and her bio simply reads "Engaged" with a ring emoji.
She subsequently invited the boy to add her on Snapchat, but it came with a warning.
"The offender told the victim he could not tell anyone about the messaging," a statement of agreed facts said.
Relationship rapidly escalated
The pair continued to communicate via social media and at school, where she would encourage the victim to hug her.
When he did not, she goaded him that he did not have "the balls" to do it.
After a few days, he relented, and as he hugged her in a classroom, he grabbed her buttocks.
From there, there was a rapid escalation in their relationship. After communicating via Snapchat for another two to three days, their messages soon became sexual.
"Send one," came Young's message to the victim, asking him for a nude photo.
The victim replied: "Do you want to see?"
When Young said "yeah", the boy sent his teacher a photo of his genitalia.
"Now that I've sent one, you send one back," the boy said.
Several days later, she replied with a picture of her genitalia and soon after photos of her breasts and a video in which she played with her bare nipples.
The conversation continued as they spoke about sexual acts they wanted to perform on each other.
'Give me a kiss'
The NSW District Court this week heard how soon after the message exchange, the pair arranged to meet in an English classroom during the lunch break.
There, the relationship went from online to physical.
Young sat him down at a desk and encouraged him to touch her genitalia.
"You don't have the balls," she said, repeating her earlier words.
The victim rubbed her on her genitalia over her clothes before Young grabbed the boy's hand and placed it inside her pants, the first offence for which she was jailed.
As he got up to leave, Young tapped her cheek and said: "Give me a kiss."
On a Tuesday afternoon, they arranged to meet after school.
The boy told his mother he needed to stay back to get help from a teacher with an assignment.
Young gave him her phone number and he skipped his afternoon classes to meet her at a park.
CCTV captured her driving in her red Hyundai hatchback.
From there, she drove him to another park where, once the car was stationary, she climbed over the centre console and sat on his lap.
The boy digitally penetrated Young before they had sex inside the car.
Young became concerned that passers-by could see into the car and stopped the sexual activity.
As she drove him to a train station, she touched his exposed genitalia.
How Young was found out
It was that evening that the seeds were planted that led to Young being discovered by the young boy's family.
He took his phone into the shower where he used Snapchat to have a series of phone conversations with Young.
His mother overheard and confiscated his phone.
As she held it in her hand, a Snapchat message alert popped up on the screen. She opened it.
It was a picture message from Young, followed by a text message asking why the boy had not replied.
The mother confronted her son, who claimed his teacher was helping him with assignments.
A few days later, the mother caught the boy making phone calls.
When she took the phone, she discovered his last two interactions were five and 19-minute calls with a Snapchat account named "Mon".
As she sat on the bed, a picture message from Young came rolling in. It depicted her, fully clothed, lying on her bed with the caption: "I'm waiting for you."
On the last day of the school term, Young and the boy sat in the back of a room as students watched the Walt Disney/Pixar film Wall-E.
She reached across and rubbed his erection on the outside of his shorts.
They arranged to meet at a staircase on school grounds later that day, where they embraced and kissed.
After the boy performed digital sex on the teacher, she said "I have an idea" before pulling down his school shorts and performing oral sex on him.
Afterwards she returned to the staffroom. This would be the last time they had sex.
But they had further contact on social media when Young sent the boy a video of her using a vibrator.
Schoolboy pulled from Young's car
One evening in July, the boy left work at 8pm to meet Young.
But his aunt happened to see him getting into Young's car.
The concerned relative followed as Young drove to a nearby supermarket car park, where they remained for five minutes.
The victim's cousin and brother soon pulled up, parked behind Young's car and approached the vehicle.
They pulled the victim from the front passenger seat and took a video of Young sitting in the driver's seat.
The next day, the boy's mother contacted the school principal, who in turn contacted the NSW Education incident and reporting hotline.
The police launched an investigation and raided Young's Greenacre home, seizing her phone and laptop.
She spent one month and five days behind bars before being bailed, initially pleading not guilty to 12 charges.
But in April this year, on the day before Young's victim was set to prerecord his evidence, the court heard a resolution had been reached.
Young entered guilty pleas to three counts of aggravated sexual intercourse with a child.
Her high-profile barrister Margaret Cunneen told the court Young wanted to put her victim "out of his misery" and had changed her plea.
During a sentence hearing, she tearfully expressed her remorse, which Judge Traill took into account in sentencing her.
"I am extremely embarrassed and ashamed that I have to write this letter to your honour," Young said during a sentence hearing last month.
"I am unable to fully express how sorry I am for my actions.
"I cannot imagine how [the victim] and his family felt."
Boy's life ruined
The court heard the boy's life has been "ruined" and upturned in almost every respect.
He was forced to leave the school after his fellow students discovered what had happened. He is now attending TAFE and working.
Judge Traill read portions of his powerful victim impact statement, in which he said he had regarded Young as a "cool teacher" and someone he believed cared about him.
But he now realised Young had abused him.
He reported feeling as though he had let his family down.
"The victim states his relationship with his parents has also been ruined and his parents blame each other for what happened," Judge Traill said.
"And they are always arguing.
"The victim has had trouble sleeping at night as he tries to relive everything to work out what went wrong."
The teenager said he felt like he had been forced to grow up, his dreams of being a physiotherapist had been ruined, and he had missed out on life, the court heard.
"He says he struggles to smile about anything any more," Judge Traill said.
Young was this week sentenced to four years and nine months in jail, with a non-parole period of two years and five months.
She will be eligible for release in October 2023.
SEXUAL HARM - DO YOU NEED HELP?
If it's an emergency and you feel that you or someone else is at risk, call 111.
If you've ever experienced sexual assault or abuse and need to talk to someone contact the Safe to Talk confidential crisis helpline on:
• Text 4334 and they will respond
• Email email@example.com
• Visit https://safetotalk.nz/contact-us/ for an online chat
Alternatively contact your local police station - click here for a list.
If you have been abused, remember it's not your fault.