NEW PHILADELPHIA — A former Newcomerstown teacher will serve at least a year in prison for committing sexual battery and contributing to the unruliness or delinquency of a child.
Adam J. Lefler, 34, has also been ordered to complete a six-month residential treatment program for sex offenders at the Eastern Ohio Correction Center in Wintersville.
Tuscarawas County Common Pleas Judge Edward O’Farrell sentenced Lefler on Thursday in front of the victim, the defendant, their family members and other supporters.
Before enumerating the punishments, the judge heard from the prosecution and defense attorneys, the victim and the perpetrator.
The victim said she was judged and ridiculed at Newcomerstown High School after Lefler was charged with engaging in sexual conduct with her in April. She told the court that she took responsibility for her actions. She said fellow students accused her of lying, or being with Lefler to get him fired. (He resigned.)
"This is a very devastating situation," she said. "Every day until now, I have felt weak and defeated."
But O’Farrell noted that state law prohibits sexual activity between a teacher and a student.
"I wish that this had never happened to you," O’Farrell told the girl. "There is no consent in this case — none."
Assistant county prosecutor Scott Deedrick said that while the victim is extremely strong and has made tremendous strides, "She will carry those scars with her for the rest of her life.
"She will never be the person she was," he said. "She will never be the person that she would have been. She had to grow up fast before she was ready in her own time. She has had a tremendous weight placed upon her that she neither asked for nor deserved to be placed upon her."
Defense attorney Christopher DeLaCruz said the act was criminal because state law says it is, and that the age of consent in Ohio is 16. He said the victim and defendant were two people experiencing personal problems who found comfort in confiding in each other.
DeLaCruz said the situation "crossed a line" after beginning innocently.
Lefler apologized to the victim, her family and his family. He said he would erase his wrongful acts if he could.
"It would be easier if I were dead. I considered that right away," Lefter said.
He said a letter from his daughter, written close to Thanksgiving Day, "saved me." The girl expressed gratitude to her father for his cooking, for putting a roof over her head, and for bringing her into the world.
Lefler said he has lost the teaching career for which he studied six years in college. His marriage has ended.
He said he found renewed purpose in caring for his mother, a cancer survivor, and his father, who had heart bypass surgery.
Lefler said his best course of action going forward is to be the best possible son, and the best possible father he can be to his 9-year-old daughter.
O’Farrell’s sentence for Lefler includes two years in a state prison, with judicial release to be granted after a year. He will be required to serve two years’ probation, supervised locally, during which time he will have to complete the residential program for sex offenders. Five years of supervision by the state parole authority will follow his release from prison.
He received credit against his sentence for two days already spent in the county jail.
Lefler will be required to report his home address to the local sheriff every 90 days for the rest of his life.