The case of a former Miamisburg teacher convicted of sex crimes against a 14-year-old student was a rarity in Montgomery County.
The punishment given to Jessica Langford last week followed a jury trial – uncommon in such county cases. And the year she was ordered to serve in the Ohio Reformatory for Women was the first prison term handed down in teacher/student sex case convictions in the county in years, according to a review by this news organization.
Here are seven issues to know after a review of the case of the 32-year-old Centerville woman:
• THE SENTENCE: Montgomery County Common Pleas Judge Timothy O’Connell said Langford will serve three concurrent one-year sentences minus one day jail credit, register as a Tier III sex offender upon release and serve five years of probation. He ordered her to pay court costs and $632 to the victim’s family.
• THE JUDGE: O’Connell had wide latitude in deciding on a sentence. He could have given Langford anywhere from probation – which the defense sought – to 15 years or more in prison, a punishment the prosecution advocated.
The judge said the “serious” factors he weighed in handing down a sentence included “the mental injury suffered by the victim of the offense due to the conduct of the offender” and “was that exacerbated because of the age of the victim?”
• THE JURY: The eight men and four women in the April trial listened to testimony from about a dozen witnesses during three days, hearing and watching about 11 hours of testimony and videos.
The panel took fewer than six hours over two days to find Langford guilty on all charges: three counts of sexual battery and three counts of unlawful sexual conduct with a minor.
• THE DEFENDANT: Langford had no criminal history and in November 2017 pleaded not guilty to all counts for which she had been indicted. She did not testify at trial.
She sobbed uncontrollably face down on a table for minutes immediately after the jury’s verdict was read. Langford fought back tears while addressing court for about seven minutes just before she was sentenced. She expressed remorse and accepted responsibility “for all my actions.”
• THE VICTIM: Now 15, he testified during the trial for more than an hour. He told the jury he had a 20- to 30-minute sexual encounter on May 23, 2017 with Langford in her Miamisburg Middle School classroom.
The teen provided many details – including the color of Langford’s underwear. Miami Twp. police said a under garment matching that color was seized in late May 2017 from Langford’s home.
The victim’s father, a local police officer, said at sentencing his son’s involvement with Langford has taken a toll.
“Before this incident my son was confident, strong willed, driven, a good student, a good athlete. Now he’s ostracized by his entire community of Miamisburg,” he said.
• THE DEFENSE: Defense attorney Lawrence Greger listed 11 potential trial witnesses but called none. He raised questions about why school district did not file a criminal complaint against Langford and the lack of Miami Twp. police involvement at the trial.
Greger also questioned why, if Langford had sex in her classroom with the teen accuser, as he testified, the site was never treated as a crime scene.
• THE PROSECUTION: Once Langford in November 2017 pleaded not guilty to all charges, the state did not offer any plea bargains. It filed a witness list including more than 33 names, but called only about a third of those at trial.
Citing the age of the victim and the actions of Langford, pushed for the maximum penalty for a case that “screams for a particularly harsh sentence.”
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