Tuesday, March 12, 2013
Former teacher gets probation on sex charge
Andrew Delles, 29, of Jackson was handed a four-year prison sentence, which was then suspended for probation by Judge Benjamin Lewis, as the victim, who was 14 years old at the time of the incident, watched tearfully from the back row. Lewis chose a form of sentencing that allows him to retain jurisdiction over the case for the duration of the five years of probation, and also keeps the felony on Delles' professional record. Having a felony sexual offense likely will keep the former communication arts instructor from ever teaching again.
In assigning probation, Lewis was following terms of a plea agreement.
"I made a horrible, terrible decision, and I can assure you it will never happen again," Delles told the judge.
The probation also calls for Delles to attend an outpatient sexual offender treatment program and to submit -- and pay for -- polygraph tests.
Delles was placed on paid leave a year ago by the Sikeston R-6 School District after allegations surfaced that he had sent "inappropriate electronic communications" to a female student. Police found two photos of an adult male on the student's phone that were determined to be of Delles, according to court documents. Photos apparently also had been exchanged between the two, the documents said, although Delles told police at the time the student must have obtained the photos of him from an adult website on which he had posted them.
Delles originally was charged with three counts of enticement of a child and three counts of sexual misconduct with a child after initial reports suggested Delles had inappropriate contact with the student, as well. Delles has maintained that he never touched the student.
Last month, as part of a deal with prosecutors, Delles pleaded guilty to one count of sexual misconduct involving a minor in exchange for the dismissal of the other counts. The case was heard in Cape Girardeau County on a change of venue.
At Monday's sentencing hearing, Delles' lawyer, Curt Poore, told the judge that Delles knows he will never teach again. Delles also has shown remorse and has been a model defendant, Poore said.
Poore also noted that Delles received a good rating in his sentencing-assessment report, one meant to provide judges with data on a defendant's risk factors and recommendations for supervising offenders. The goal is to reduce the chances that an offender will reoffend.
Criminal charges such as Delles' always receive the attention of the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, according to spokeswoman Sarah Potter. Potter on Monday said action will be taken against Delles' teaching certificate. The certificate will be presented before the state board of education, she said.
"It will most likely be revoked so he could not teach any longer," Potter said.
The Missouri State Highway Patrol, which maintains the state's sex offender registry, has said that because Delles' actions involved a minor, he will be required to register on the list for the rest of his life.
100 Court St., Jackson, Mo.
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