Friday, March 12, 2010

Teacher gets 11.5 to 23 months in prison for "affair" with 17 year old student

A former Council Rock, PA teacher was sentenced to 11 1/2 to 23 months in prison Wednesday, March 10 for a sexual "relationship" with his 17 year old student. 43 year old Robert C. Hawkins was a former math teacher at Council Rock High School South when the "affair" started.

Hawkins had sex with the girl three or four times a week in his Newtown, PA home, and had her research the AOC laws showing that she was over Pensylvania's AOC. The relationship ended last July after police found out about it. Hawkins was charged with corruption of minors and endangering the welfare of a child in December.

Before hearing his sentence, Hawkins, 43, of the 1800 block of Society Place, Newtown, apologized to the court for his actions and the hurt that he caused the family of the victim, his friends, students, the Council Rock School District and the community.

Hawkins said to the court, “A little over a year ago I fell from grace. I made choices that were wrong and utterly disgraced myself and my career as a teacher. I am ashamed, sorrowful and guilt-ridden,” he said. Hawkins, who has lost his job, career, teaching certificate and the respect of many as a result of his actions, told the judge he’s ready to accept his sentence.

His statement to the victim's parents is shown below.

I apologize to the family. There is not a day that goes by that I do not feel horrified by the pain that I caused your daughter and the rest of the family … I hope that you can believe me that I absolutely meant no harm, especially your daughter.

There is no excuse for my decision to engage in a romantic relationship with your daughter,” he said. “As unbelievable and unimaginable as it may sound to some, I truly believe we had fallen in love,” said Hawkins. I was struck up with true admiration, friendship and feelings that spiraled out of control.

There was never anything ugly, manipulative, evil or underhanded in how it evolved. I acted selfishly and I was overcome by emotional response. I allowed my emotions to get in the way of my common sense and judgment. I should have known better. There were boundaries that I shouldn’t have crossed and exercised very poor judgment.

Bucks County Deputy District Attorney Jennifer Schorn said that Hawkins “leads two lives -- one where he praises himself as an inspirational teacher and the other where he uses his talent and ability to groom and get close to students so that he can victimize them.”

This summation of Hawkins' character was echoed by the victim's parents. The mother said that "What he did was chillingly pre-meditative. She idolized him. In turn, he used her trust and his authority to target her, pursue her and prey on her during a very vulnerable time of her life. As he groomed her, he told her every step of the way that there was nothing wrong with what they were doing because he loved her and wanted to marry her."

The father said that "Little did we know that the defendant made a practice of grooming students and essentially brainwashing and manipulating them for his own pleasure. He had her under a spell and he was good at it. It's not surprising. He had a lot of practice. If a bright, attractive girl came through, he would steal her youth for his own personal pleasure...The impact is immeasurable.

I will never be able to fully describe all the aspects of our lives that have been forever damaged by these crimes.There is no way to undo the impact, but we will move on and look forward to a future that has the defendant in prison. Maybe in prison he will take the time to reflect on his actions and for the first time take accountability for them. If nothing else, incarceration will prevent him from preying on other vulnerable young women."

Judge Clyde Waite said that instead of falling from grace,  Hawkins' behavior was a ongoing pattern which needed to be stopped. "It gives me no pleasure in doing this, because you have a talent that could be put to a better use. But unless there's some period of incarceration, I don't think you will take it seriously...The manipulation and isolation of impressionable people is pretty much what a pimp does and that’s kind of close to what you were doing here, not just with this young lady but others as well.”

The others referred to by the judge included an 18 year old woman Hawkins used to teach who he had an "affair" with after she graduated.

As part of the sentence, the judge ordered Hawkins to reimburse the victim's family $3,780 for counseling services already rendered to their daughter. In addition, Hawkins will have to pay $540 a month for ongoing counseling for the extent of the victim’s undergraduate education.

Waite also gave Hawkins 10 days to decide whether to participate in a deposition with the Council Rock School District and the District Attorney's office regarding other teachers who may have known about the relationship but never came forward.

Some of those teachers have been fired, and others have resigned as a result of the probe into their possible cover-up of the "affair." Judge Waite said that those teachers, some of which submitted character references for Hawkins, downplayed the seriousness of the crime by their support. "The seriousness of what you have done is accommodated by them, and I don't think it should be," Waite said.

The victim's parents said after the sentencing, Hawkin's punishment "sends a strong message that his reprehensible conduct will not be tolerated," the victim's parents said in a statement afterward. As parents, none of us should have to worry that when we send our children to school they will be preyed upon by their teachers."

No comments: