Fayette jury finds former teacher guilty on rape, sodomy charges

awilson1@herald-leader.comJuly 15, 2009 

After about four hours of deliberation on Tuesday, a Fayette County jury found former teacher Jack Russell Hubbard guilty of four counts of third-degree sodomy and one count of third-degree rape.

The charges dated to 1978 against 15-year-old Carol Lynne Maner and ninth-grader Thomas "Beau" Goodman III.

Hubbard was a teacher at Beaumont Junior High School, where Maner and Goodman were students.

"This sends a message to pedophiles lurking in the school system that they will be held accountable," Maner said after the verdict was read.

The jury recommended a 61/2-year sentence — one year for each sodomy count and 21/2 years on the rape count. The maximum possible was five years on each count.

Judge James Ishmael Jr. set sentencing for Aug. 28.

The jury's choice of the third-degree designations on each of the counts indicates that jurors did not think the teenagers were unconscious or physically unable to communicate an unwillingness to participate in the act.

Asked whether she was troubled that the jury opted against the more serious charges, Maner said she was not.

"I lost my education and my dignity by degree by his hand," Maner said. "It doesn't matter. I feel the truth was presented clearly, and the rest was in the hands of God and the jury."

The verdict came at the end of a day that started with the appearance of Roberta Blackwell Walter, who had reached a plea agreement with the commonwealth and was testifying for the prosecution.

Walter, accused of repeatedly raping and molesting Maner when she was 15, testified that the allegations were true.

Further, Walter said she had lied to state prosecutors and police in the past about her behavior to protect herself and her family. She said she had been in denial.

Walter had been Maner's eighth- and ninth-grade art teacher and had set herself up as a mentor and substitute mother figure when Maner's mother was diagnosed with manic-depression disorder.

Instead, Walter said she "fell very much in love" with Maner and began a sexual relationship with her.

"I realize (now) I was the adult, and she was the child," Walter told jurors. "I should have nipped it in the bud. I knew it was wrong."

Tom Smith, the special prosecutor assigned to the case, explained to the jury how he had agreed to reduce the two felony charges facing Walter — which would likely include prison time — to misdemeanor charges carrying only probation in exchange for what she knew about Hubbard's sexual relationship with Maner.

Defense attorney Bill Butler had called the arrangement "the sweetheart deal from the Commonwealth of Kentucky" and rattled Walter's memory as to when and if she had ever driven Maner to Hubbard's house, a key point in the prosecution's rape case against Hubbard.

Walter testified that, although she had not witnessed the sex, Hubbard had told her about his sexual relationship with Maner while he and Walter were "standing outside the glass windows in front of the office at the school."

She also said that she initiated sex with Hubbard to make Maner jealous after learning of Hubbard's continuing seduction of Maner.

"I was a lot angry and jealous," Walter said.

Also testifying Tuesday was Goodman, who spoke of repeatedly being given marijuana and falling asleep at Hubbard's house, only to be awakened while being sodomized by Hubbard.

He says he feigned sleep during the sex.

He said the two never spoke about or acknowledged the sex and that he remained in contact with Hubbard, even staying with him in Germany for 18 months after high school.

Goodman also said that he told no one about the abuse until 2003.

The defense spent the afternoon with its only witness — Hubbard. Speaking in calm, measured tones, making eye contact with the jurors, the 61-year-old retired teacher said he "100 percent" denied the charges against him and said he did not provide marijuana.

"I didn't use marijuana. I had none to share," he said.

Hubbard testified that he was interested only in helping "needy" children and that he loved teaching for that reason.

He agreed he had been close with Goodman, allowing the young man to spend the night at his home several times a week. He had taken him on as a "Big Brother," took him camping, out of state, even helped him be baptized at his own grandmother's church in Middlesboro.

Hubbard also indicated he had no previous arrests and no other misconduct charges against him during his long teaching career.

Butler said from the outset that the case against Hubbard was about "money and revenge."

Maner sued the Fayette County School District over the abuse and won a $3.9 million verdict which was recently upheld by an appellate court.

Special prosecutor Tom Smith, however, said: "It's not about the money. It's about the molesting."

Smith told jurors that for them to believe the defense, there would have had to be a great conspiracy among six witnesses and the prosecutor to frame Hubbard.

Smith said he only had wanted "a fair jury." He was convinced he got it.

Reach Amy Wilson at 800-231-3305 or 1-800-950-6397, Ext. 3305.

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