JACKSON COUNTY, Ind. -- A former Seymour Middle School math teacher was sentenced on multiple counts of child molestation after pleading guilty to molesting a student.
Aaron Murray was sentenced to 21 years behind bars, plus three years of supervised probation. He was ordered to not have any contact with the victim.
Murray is a former Seymour Middle School math teacher. He met the 12-year-old student at school and tutored her in math. Prosecutors said Murray manipulated the victim into trusting him. According to court records, he picked her up and took her to multiple different locations on many occasions to "be alone." That's when he would sexually molest the teen.
The victim's father read an emotional impact statement in court saying his daughter was a straight-A student before Murray became involved in her life. Since the incident, the teen has been confined to a mental hospital where she is constantly monitored for fear she might commit suicide.
"He took her from that to suicide. That was her trip with him," the victim's father stated.
Murray is also accused of contacting the victim more than 70 times while in jail on unrelated charges. During recorded phone conversations, Murray asked the teen to send him pictures, he detailed sexual encounters, and told her she was going to be his wife.
During the hearing, Murray stated he called the victim multiple times from jail to check on her. Both the judge and prosecutor argued the contents of the recorded conversations were not consistent with someone who cared, stating Murray encouraged and initiated sexual discussions and did not discourage the victim from stating she was going to hurt herself.
Jackson County Prosecutor, AmyMarie Travis, said the phone calls were part of a plan to encourage the victim not to testify against him in court.
“He further engaged in a lot of sexual talk with the victim, as well as what I believe was emotional grooming to keep her in the relationship and to keep him with her," Travis said.
Travis asked for 10 years on each count with two years suspended on each count, for a total of 30 years, with six years suspended to probation. She said she was pleased with 21 years, though. She also said she wanted to ensure Murray never had the chance to teach again. The Department of Education requested Murray sign a form voluntarily handing over his teaching license. That means he would never have the opportunity to apply for a teaching license again in Indiana. This is the standard protocol for when a teacher is convicted of a crime. If a teacher does not voluntarily surrender their license, the DOE will hold a hearing sometime after sentencing.
“I did want to make sure that he lost his license to teach children in the state of Indiana," Travis said.
The victim's father said he's disappointed with the way the school district handled his daughter's case. He said there were warning signs and this situation could have been prevented.
“The worst fear for parents is that they cannot protect their baby when they thought their child was in a dignified, clear situation," the father said. He added, “there’s no fixing. There is simply no fixing the damage that the monster did and he chose her because of her innocence.”
The judge said he would consider modifying the sentence at a later date, only if Murray does not attempt to contact the victim. He said he knew the sentenced was strong, but wanted to send a message to Murray that what he did is unacceptable. He added, Murray did not show remorse.