Sentence determined for former high school teacher involved in improper relationships

Sentence determined for former high school teacher involved in improper relationships

ODESSA, TX (KWES) - Former Permian High School Teacher Jay Burns was sentenced Wednesday after pleading guilty to having improper relationships with his students.

There were tearful reactions from the victims, their families, Burns, and his mother as the sentencing was read.

"[The jury] took the time to examine the evidence and came back with a very stiff sentence," said Ector County District Attorney Bobby Bland.

The jury deliberated for three hours before coming back with their decision. They sentenced Burns to 10 years for each of four counts of an improper relationship between an educator and student; 15 years on each of three counts of sexual assault; 15 years on one count of indecency with a child; and ten years on one count of stalking.

"One of the things we have asked is that it be accumulated, in other words stacked, but it depends on whether the judge can. When you try cases together, the judge can't always stack them on top of each other," said Bland.

Burns admitted to having relationships with two former students at Permian High School, then 16 and 18-year-old years old. Both girls took the stand Tuesday and detailed their encounters with the former teacher.

"These young ladies braved all kinds of trouble to get to this this point. They had to come forward and say what was happening to them and they had to tell the jury, a bunch of strangers, what happened," said Bland.

The then 18-year-old testified she met Burns on an adult dating site called "Fetlife." They later met up and had one sexual encounter. Burns then distanced himself and she tried to commit suicide.

The younger victim says she met Burns on the website too. She went into detail about the relationship saying her and Burns entered a contract around March 14, 2015. The contract required her to not talk to any boys, have a healthy lifestyle and not talk badly about herself. If she disobeyed Burns, she would have to be punished.

"The things that this individual did just go against the face of every thing that is decent," said Bland.

Burns testified Wednesday saying he was in love with the then 16-year-old student and didn't see her as a child, but a woman who had all the qualities he desired. He said he feels ashamed for his actions and plead with the jury for remorse.

The defense pushed for probation and said both girls were willing participants in the relationships. They referred to Burns as a "poor lonely man" who went off the rails for three months and lost everything.

Bland says he is pleased with the sentencing. The judge will make the final decision in the formal sentencing on May 4, 2016.

"Having served in Judge Whalen's court, I know he will do what's right based on all the evidence of this case," said Bland.

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