Deterring Abuse By Educators

Far more children are saved from abuse by educators than are victimized by them. Think back on how many cases of abuse have been reported to the authorities by concerned teachers.

That makes it all the more upsetting and unacceptable when an educator preys on a child.

Rachel Duncan, a former teacher and coach in the St. Clairsville-Richland school district, pleaded guilty to nine counts of gross sexual imposition this week in Belmont County Common Pleas Court. Duncan, 35, could be sentenced to more than 13 years in prison.

Her victim was a softball player she coached.

“Ma’am, you have wrongly and unfairly cast doubt on (educators’) trustworthiness and have wrongly and unfairly tarnished all of their reputations,” Judge Frank Fregiato told Duncan.

“You’ve also destroyed the tremendous trust that has been bestowed on you,” the judge added.

Precisely.

Sentencing is set for May 30. Before that occurs, a victim impact statement will be obtained. A pre-sentencing investigation will be completed. Those factors will weigh heavily on Fregiato’s decision, as they should.

One way or another, however, a stiff sentence is required. It may deter other adults from victimizing children — and it will send a necessary message that breaking the trust society must have in educators will not be tolerated.

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