Calling him “a blight” on his profession, a Montgomery County Common Pleas Judge sentenced a former Stivers High School drama teacher to probation after he pleaded guilty to pandering obscenity of a minor.
John S. Findley, 35, also was ordered Friday to register as a Tier II sex offender and to voluntarily surrender his teaching certificate. He must perform community service and undergo sex offender treatment.
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Findley was found with a sexually explicit picture of a Fairmont High school student on his phone and indicted in 2017 on seven counts.
Six counts were dismissed as part of a plea deal that stipulated community control. Findley could have received six to 18 months for the third-degree felony.
Judge Barbara Gorman told Findley she thought he still hadn’t accepted responsibility and that he likely did take the photo.
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“You were a teacher,” Gorman said. “And to kind of say, ‘Well, she was in a different school, so, you know, you really weren’t her teacher.’ Well, a teacher is a teacher. People, students look up to teachers. Teaching is a noble profession. You are a blight on that profession.”
Montgomery County assistant prosecutor Anthony Schoen read a victim impact statement letter from victim’s father, then a Wright-Patterson Air Force Base member on active deployment overseas.
“During this period, complaining witness’ life and attitude changed from a conquer-the-world mentality to a broken young 15- to 16-year-old girl,” the father wrote, asking for substantial jail time for Findley. “I was not able to physically be with my family for emotional support.”
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Neither defense attorney Kevin Lennen nor Findley commented before sentencing.
Reading from a sentencing report, Gorman said Findley was quoted as saying he “befriended a student at a different high school because she needed somebody to talk to” and admitted he “should not have been hanging around with people in that age range.”
Two Fairmont employees were fired in connection with Findley’s case.
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The letter said the victim withdrew from school early, moved out of state, finished high school early and got a substantial college scholarship but was unable to complete her education.
The father said his daughter struggles with trust and emotional attachment issues and receives counseling. He said his whole family has been handed an emotional life sentence.
“As an active duty member with seven deployments, I have had to seek counseling to overcome many issues,” the father wrote. “But the violation of my daughter is not something that I am able to get over.”
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Gorman also said Findley can’t live within 1,000 feet of a school, cannot have internet access, can’t have contact with the victim and must pay $500 to a rape crisis program trust fund.
Findley’s conviction and sentencing follow probation sentences for local ex-teachers Madeline Marx and Jessica Langford, who both were found guilty of sex crimes against their students.
“Your actions resulted in people looking at teachers with more suspicion,” Gorman said. “You totally took a profession that was well-respected and you stomped on it. And you’re a blight on it. And you can’t ever teach again.”
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