Punish, Deter Abuse of Trust

It appears Joshua Cusick was guilty of just one abuse of the trust bestowed upon him by parents in the Martins Ferry school district. That may have been part of the reason why some in the community believed a judge should go easy on him.

But Cusick’s offense was a very serious one. He sent a nude image of himself to a student’s cellphone.

Cusick, 26, had been a teacher and coach in Martins Ferry. He pleaded guilty to a charge of disseminating matter harmful to a juvenile. On Friday, Belmont County Common Pleas Judge Frank Fregiato sentenced him to six months in jail, followed by six months at the Eastern Ohio Correction Center.

It would have been easy for Fregiato to let Cusick off with sanctions not including jail time. The prosecution did not seek time behind bars. Eighteen character references were provided for the defendant. He seemed genuinely remorseful and had cooperated with investigators in the case. His attorney said the offense was an isolated one.

And Cusick will lose his license to teach.

Fregiato took all that into consideration. But he also thought about the fact Cusick betrayed a trust.

“We send our children and grandchildren to school to be educated, not to be perversely taken advantage of,” the judge noted. He added that Cusick’s offense unfairly cast a shadow on “all of our great teachers … who hold honored, very honored, positions of trust to literally mold our children.”

Fregiato was absolutely right in the sentence he handed down, both as punishment for Cusick’s breach of trust and as a deterrent for others in the future.

Cusick was accused of committing just one crime — but it was a big, intolerable one going far beyond the single victim involved in his offense.