A judge sent a powerful message Thursday that an educator cannot have sex with a student when he sentenced a former Fort Recovery teacher and coach to 20 years in prison.
Christopher Summers lost his job, more than $120,000 in legal fees and wages, his standing in the community, the trust of his family and now his freedom. Judge Jeffrey Ingraham sentenced Summers on eight counts of sexual battery, each a third-degree felony.
Summers made an emotional plea asking the judge for probation while fully accepting responsibility. But at the same time, several friends testified on his behalf to blame the victim, a former student and player, for a sexual relationship that continued for more than two years.
Mercer County Prosecutor Matt Fox said described Summers as a manipulative man and said he used his friends to attack he victim again during the sentencing hearing.
“He’s a liar,” Fox said. “That manipulation and control continues even today through the defendant’s presentation and through his surrogates and puppets.”
Fox read the final text message Summers sent to the victim before she told her mother in November and they went to the authorities.
“Last straw … last straw forever. If it takes all my life I will … ruin you,” Fox read.
The victim said Summers hurt her physically, mentally and emotionally.
“I will never forget what he did to me. He made me feel like I was a worthless piece of meat,” she said.
The victim’s mother asked the judge to send Summers to prison for the maximum 40 years so her daughter could feel safe again and know Summers was not out lurking, ready to retaliate.
“As her mother, the only way I see her recovering is if she knows she’s safe,” she said.
The victim’s father said he was torn by the knowledge he was unable to protect his daughter. He also said he would leave it up to the court to handle the punishment.
“I am not allowed to deal with Mr. Summers my way,” he said.
Summers was in the middle of trial in August when he decided to plea after the victim testified against him. He faced 47 criminal charges including rape. Had he been convicted, Summers would have faced spending the rest of his life in prison.
Summers made a lengthy statement in court that was well thought out and showed he was not the average criminal by admitting to the crimes and taking ownership. Many saw it as a last ditch attempt to save himself from a long prison sentence.
“I made a huge mistake. An awful mistake. A mistake I don’t know if I will ever be able to forgive myself,” he said. “I was in a position of trust. I was in a position where she was my student, and what I did was wrong. There was no blame on her. None. It’s completely and absolutely on me.”
Still, he blamed his actions on depression and marital problems.
“I’m not the monster they made me out to be. I was in a bad place,” he said.
Now the place Summers will be is prison which the victim, her family and the prosecutor said he richly deserves.
By Greg Sowinski - The Lima News, Ohio (MCT)
©2013 The Lima News (Lima, Ohio)
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