A former Jackson High School teacher became ashen and his knees buckled Monday when a Snohomish County judge sentenced him to a state prison for having sex with one of his students.
Robert Vincent Beresford, 35, of Everett had asked the judge to sentence him to treatment and a shorter county jail term.
Superior Court Judge Kenneth Cowsert said the special sentencing alternative for sex offenders would not be a benefit to Beresford or the community — by law two things a judge must consider in making such determinations.
Beresford was taken away in handcuffs to begin serving a 15-month prison term on convictions of two counts of first-degree sexual misconduct with a minor. Twenty months was the top end of the sentencing range.
Moments earlier, Cowsert found Beresford guilty of the two charges after reviewing more than 400 pages of police reports and witness statements.
The prison term came despite a joint recommendation by deputy prosecutor Janice Albert and defense lawyer David Allen of Seattle that Beresford get treatment and a shorter jail term.
Allen described Beresford as a good teacher, and former colleagues wrote that he made impressions on students, got them excited to learn.
For 10 years, "he did have a very positive effect on his students" at Jackson and elsewhere, Allen said.
His teaching days are through forever, Allen said, noting that Beresford already has been punished when he lost his job at Jackson and was stripped of his teaching certificate.
"This is truly the first time Rob crossed the line," Allen said. "Rob is very remorseful about what he did."
In addition, the convictions mean he will have to register as a sex offender.
Albert accused him of having sex numerous times with a then-17-year-old Jackson student. The girl has since changed schools because of the embarrassment.
Beresford was taken out of the classroom in October when the girl’s mother overheard a telephone conversation between her daughter and the teacher and reported it to officials.
In February, Beresford resigned and dropped an appeal of the Everett School District’s intention to fire him.
In court Monday, the victim stood in front of the judge and someone read a letter from her.
During her association with Beresford last year, she was caught up in the glamour and attention from an older man. Now, she said to the defendant, "I see what you did to me … This has forever changed my life. I didn’t want you to get in trouble" at first, but after time she sees the damage that was done.
"You treated me like a piece of meat, and it was wrong," she said.
Her mother called Beresford a "rapist." Her daughter trusted him as a teacher "and you took that trust and treated her in the worst way," she said, asking the judge for a tough penalty.
When it was his turn to talk, Beresford told the girl it was her trust he violated.
"I have really high standards for myself and somehow let them go," he said. "I want her to know I did believe in her. I violated her trust, and I let her down. I’m truly sorry."
Beresford wasn’t pleased with the sentence.
Cowsert said he didn’t dole out the prison term because he dislikes Beresford or because he didn’t think he was a good teacher.
"I’m sending you to prison for what you did," he said. "Do you understand?"
"I don’t understand," Beresford responded. "It seems excessive."
Reporter Jim Haley: 425-339-3447 or firstname.lastname@example.org.