The former teacher accused of raping and sodomizing two students 30 years ago was sentenced to 6½ years in prison for his crimes, the maximum allowed because that's what the jury recommended when it found him guilty in July.
There weren't words strong enough for Fayette Circuit Judge James Ishmael Jr. when it came to pronouncing the final judgment Friday on Jack Russell Hubbard, 62, for his actions while a science teacher at Beaumont Junior High School in 1978.
The two victims, Carol Lynne Maner and Thomas Goodman III, both testified about what happened to them.
Roberta Blackwell Walter, a second former teacher charged with abuse, reached a plea agreement with prosecutors in exchange for her testimony during Hubbard's trial.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to the Lexington Herald-Leader
"I must tell you I found the testimony of both of these (students) extremely credible," Ishmael said. "I believed them. Nobody puts themselves through that unless they believed that and it really happened. I want you to know that, Mr. Hubbard. I think you are a fortunate man in regard to the jury recommendation, extremely fortunate."
The judge continued, saying that when he heard the jury's suggested prison term of 6½ years for the combined convictions of four counts of third-degree sodomy and one count of third-degree rape, he thought it "frankly pretty incredible" and "extremely generous." The maximum possible was five years on each count.
Hubbard, who has maintained his innocence throughout the trial, let his attorney speak on his behalf.
William Butler asked Ishmael earlier to put his client on probation, given that he had led an exemplary life for 30 years, having no criminal history and a clean employment record.
Speaking directly to a hunched Hubbard, who was dressed in faded green Fayette County Detention Center overalls and shower shoes, Ishmael said he found it "totally unacceptable" that a grown man, in a position of trust over eighth- and ninth-graders, would do this to students. He called it "absolutely reprehensible."
For the record, he said, he considered probation "as I must do under the law, but I reject it."
He said, "I frankly wish I had discretion to increase" the sentence, but state law prohibits that. Ishmael had Hubbard sign papers that require him to register as a sex offender after he is released and remanded into the custody of the prison system.
Maner, who said she hadn't missed a hearing in the case for the six years it took to reach this day, was in court Friday because it has been important to her "to look him in the eye." She said the litigation had been "all-consuming."
Maner, looking relieved, said she found Ishmael's tongue lashing "quite profound and heartening."
She said that sometimes people think that because the abuse happened 30 years ago it should be viewed as a lesser crime. That's something she says she will work to dispel for others who have suffered at the hands of pedophiles.
Maner is still involved in a legal battle with the Fayette County Board of Education.
A Fayette Circuit Court jury awarded Maner $3.9 million in 2007, after she filed a lawsuit alleging she was sexually abused by four teachers, a guidance counselor and an assistant principal at Beaumont Junior High School and Lafayette High School while she was a student in the late 1970s and early 1980s. The lawsuit said district administrators did nothing to stop the abuse.
The Kentucky Court of Appeals upheld the decision in May and in July denied the school district's request to reconsider. Earlier this month, the district asked the state Supreme Court to conduct a discretionary review of the case.
Maner's mother, Carolyn, who was much maligned during Hubbard's trial as being absent because of her manic-depressive diagnosis, has emerged as her daughter's hero. She apparently tried to get the school administration to intervene in 1978 in the abuse of her daughter. She was by her daughter's side Friday.
"I'm so glad this part's over," Carolyn Maner said. "But it'll never be over for us."
Butler said Hubbard is considering an appeal.