A former high school teacher will spend a year on probation but no time behind bars after having an inappropriate relationship with a student.
Aaron Clark, 37, was sentenced Monday to 364 days in jail, all of it suspended, by Superior Court Justice Robert Murray in Waldo County Superior Court. Clark taught math at Mount View High School in Thorndike prior to his arrest in June.
“I’m sorry about what this has done to her,” Clark said of the victim as he addressed the judge during the sentencing. “I never wanted anything but the best for her.”
His victim, who sat in the back of the courtroom flanked by advocates, put her head in her hands and cried as Clark began to speak.
“I want this nightmare to be over for her and for me,” Clark added in a hushed voice.
Clark pled guilty earlier this month to unlawful sexual touching, a Class D misdemeanor. The sentence was outlined in an agreement brokered by the prosecution and defense. Clark had no prior convictions, according to the court.
Clark resigned his teaching post after his arrest, which followed a complaint to police made by the victim’s parents. The victim, now 18, was underage at the time of the crimes, which took place over the course of several months.
The victim, speaking to the judge before he made his ruling, called Clark’s conduct a “betrayal” of trust in an educator that has “wrecked my confidence.”
“I’m haunted by this experience daily,” she told the judge. Since this happened, she has been the target of rumor, speculation and bullying. She now feels uncomfortable when meeting with male professors or getting positive feedback on assignments.
Under the terms of his probation, Clark must not have any contact with the victim, undergo a mental health evaluation, and have counseling focused on appropriate “sexual conduct.”
The victim said she accepted those terms. Murray said that while Clark won’t spend time in prison, his 364-day sentence was the maximum allowed under the law, even though it is fully suspended.
With this crime on his record, Clark likely wouldn’t find another teaching job working with children in the future, the judge said.