A former Seymour Middle School teacher who recently pleaded guilty to molesting one of his students was sentenced to 21 years in prison Tuesday morning in Jackson Circuit Court.
Before receiving that sentence, Aaron D. Murray, 41, of Seymour, testified he did not have an explanation for the actions that led to his arrest on the child molesting charges in July 2015.
Murray also couldn’t say why he later violated a no-contact order and spoke with the girl about 70 times from jail, a fact Judge Richard W. Poynter said he found completely unexplainable.
Story continues below gallery
Poynter, who also ordered Murray to spend six years on supervised probation, said he listened to more than six hours of the conversations between Murray and the victim Monday night to have it fresh in his mind for the sentencing hearing.
He said the conversations show Murray did not have remorse for his actions and was trying to imply the victim was an adult and the two had a relationship.
“She is a 13-year-old child,” Poynter said.
Middle school children are impressionable and often look to their teachers for guidance, especially girls, but aren’t capable of relationships, Poynter added.
Poynter said with everything today’s youth face, including sex and drugs, school is the one place they should feel safe, and they should be able to trust their teachers instead of becoming the victim of a predator.
Poynter said he might one day consider modifying Murray’s sentence if he could stay out of trouble in prison and do at least one other thing.
“Leave her alone,” Poynter said.
Murray said the victim was troubled, and he initially was just helping her out as he did with other troubled children. He also testified he kissed the girl and later fondled her. He said he sought psychiatric help but lost his job, his wife, his house and many other friends because of his arrests.
Prosecutor AmyMarie Travis later presented evidence the girl was a straight-A student prior to the incidents, and the girl’s father testified she has since had to undergo counseling and treatment for the issues caused by Murray’s actions.
Murray’s mother, Sandy, testified that the man who committed the crimes Murray pleaded guilty to was not the man she had raised.
She said since his father’s death in February, she has needed Murray to help run the family auto sales business and to help out with other repairs around their house.
Murray’s attorney, Brad Johnson of Seymour, said he also believed the only way to describe Murray’s actions with the victim, especially the jail telephone conversations, is that he had some mental issues.
As he was being led to a transport van outside the courthouse, Murray was asked if he had anything to say to the victim’s family.
“I’m sorry,” he said.
Travis said she was pleased with the sentence because it pretty much fell in line with what she expected.
Murray could have received a maximum of 12 years on each count, but it was unlikely a judge would impose the maximum sentence on someone with no prior criminal convictions.
“I asked for 10 on each count with two suspended on each count,” she said.
As part of the plea agreement, the state did agree to not seek any charges in connection with Murray violating the no-contact order with the telephone conversations. The state also agreed to dismiss charges in a separate case in which Murray had been charged with residential burglary and battery causing injury.
Those injuries stem from an incident in October 2015 in which Murray showed up at a residence where his estranged wife was visiting friends and wanted to speak to her. He was out of jail on bond on the child molesting charges at the time.