GEORGETOWN — A former Scott County middle school teacher was sentenced Monday to two years in prison after pleading guilty in February to two charges stemming from a relationship he had with a girl who was 16 at the time.
Scott Circuit Judge Rob Johnson denied a defense request for probation for Jason Alan Carpenter, 40. Carpenter pleaded guilty in February to one count of second-degree unlawful transaction with a minor and one count of possession of matter portraying a sexual performance by a minor.
The other 28 charges in a 30-count indictment were dismissed or merged into the charges to which Carpenter pleaded guilty. The victim and her parents agreed to the plea agreement and recommended sentence.
Carpenter's relationship with his accuser began in 2009. He was charged in 2011.
Defense attorney Warren Scoville said an evaluation of Carpenter showed that he was at very low risk of repeating the behavior.
Carpenter, a former coach of the high school girls golf team, must register as a sex offender.
He lost his job as a teacher and filed for bankruptcy after being charged, Scoville said.
"The only reason he hasn't apologized (to the victim and her family) is that lawyers don't let their clients apologize," Scoville said.
He also said, "I've known him since he was born. I'm shocked at his conduct. He's manned up. I believe the court should probate him."
Defendants in similar cases have received probation, Scoville said.
Scoville also said that Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney Lee Greenup took no position on probation.
The girl's father told the court that "the impact on our daughter, ... there aren't words for it, and he needs to held accountable."
The judge then began to dispute Scoville's statement point by point. Johnson said that "this is not a one-time occurrence" and that it "happened over a significant period of time."
"This is not a relationship in which a child should be forced into," Johnson said. Under the law, "you can't have a consensual relationship with someone this age. Children have a right to be children. ... In this situation, that was taken away. ... This child had things pushed upon her. Again, she can't consent."
Johnson told Scoville, "I can tell you, in the cases before me, I have not granted probation. ... People have done two years for much less than this."
Johnson told Carpenter, "I have no doubt that you have suffered from these actions. But to the extent that I would grant you probation, I believe it would unduly depreciate the nature of the crime."
Johnson also said that "these cases are becoming more frequent, and I'm not sure why."
With that, Carpenter was ordered to begin serving his sentence.
A misdemeanor trespassing charge against Carpenter is pending in Scott District Court. Scoville said he had told Carpenter it would be all right for him to attend his daughter's dance recital on the campus of Georgetown College. But a condition of Carpenter's release from jail was that he was not to go onto any school campus, and several people reported seeing him at John L. Hill Chapel.
A status hearing in that case is scheduled May 13.