Ex-Teacher Curtis Payne Faces 60 Years to Life After No Contest Plea in Sex Abuse Case
Former Sunset Elementary School teacher Curtis William Payne pleaded no contest on August 5 to sexually abusing several former students throughout his 32-year career as a teacher in St. George.
The 60-year-old former teacher appeared before 5th District Judge Jeffrey Wilcox for a resolution hearing on Monday after his two-week jury trial was cancelled. Payne had originally been charged in five different cases with a total of 15 counts of aggravated sexual abuse of a child.
As part of a plea deal, Payne pleaded no contest to four of six counts in one of these five cases. The plea agreement dismisses the remaining two counts in that case and all of the charges in the other four pending cases.
Payne was arrested in January 2018 and was initiall charged with three counts of aggravated seuxal abuse of a child for abuse that occurred during the 1990s, according to a probable cause statement.
He was arrested a second time less than a week after his release and was charged with another 12 counts of the same offense. These charges were filed following an expansive investigation by detectives, in which 32 people were interviewed. Follow-up investigations found several more alleged victims.
Aggravated sexual abuse of a child is a first-degree felony and each count carries a minimum sentence of 15 years to life in prison. The prosecution has asked that each of these counts be served consecutively, which would total a minimum sentence of 60 years to life in prison.
Payne has a sentencing hearing scheduled for September 17.
Hi, I’m attorney Brian Kent.
If you or a loved one is a survivor of sexual abuse, I’d be happy to discuss your legal options.
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Legal Recourse For Victims of Sexual Abuse by Teachers
Attorney contributor Brian Kent of AbuseGuardian.com is a former sex crimes prosecutor who now serves as a civil attorney, representing sex abuse victims in lawsuits. Here are a few of Brian’s thoughts regarding the legal rights of those who have been sexually abused by teachers:
Teachers and other professionals who work with children must be properly vetted in order to ensure that the children they’re working with are safe. Tragically, positions in education are often sought after by sexual predators. These predators look to place themselves in positions of trust where they’ll have the chance to commit terrible crimes against children.
Schools have a crucial responsibility to make sure that their students are protected from these predators. Along with properly vetting new hires, our schools must take allegations of sexual abuse or misconduct seriously and respond appropriately by contacting the authorities.
In some cases of sexual abuse involving teachers, the abuse may have been prevented if not for negligence by the school. In these cases, the victims and their families may have grounds for a lawsuit.
If you or a loved one is a survivor of sexual abuse by a teacher or another school employee, you can learn more about your legal options by speaking with an experienced sex abuse survivors attorney.
Sunset Elementary School in St. George, UT
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