Seventeen East High students, former students, parents and teachers addressed U.S. District Judge James Peterson during the four-hour sentencing hearing of David Kruchten, 39, of Cottage Grove.
Nearly all fought back tears as they described Kruchten’s “manipulative” and “grooming” behavior. Many asked Peterson to hand down 20 years in prison, the maximum sentence.
“I have no doubt in my mind he was actually grooming the girls he wanted to see on camera,” a parent of one of the victims said, her voice heavy with emotion.
Some of the victims said they were as young as 14 years old the first time they went on an overnight field trip with Kruchten. Most said their lives had changed dramatically since the December 2019 discovery of hidden cameras in student hotel rooms during an overnight field trip organized by Kruchten.
“I have no sense of privacy even in my own home,” one victim, who also babysat Kruchten’s young children, said as the former teacher sat less than 20 feet away in an orange jail suit, his feet chained.
A number of victims also said they struggled with feelings of guilt, anxiety and depression. Some said they attended as many as eight overnight field trips with Kruchten. One said, since the discovery, she found herself in a public bathroom taking apart an air freshener to see if a camera was inside, amid an anxiety attack.