Judge says sentence for ex-teacher accused of sex crimes not enough
By Jonathan Lowe, TV5 Anchor, Reporter - bio | email
BEAVERTON, MI (WNEM) -
For the last six months, the Gladwin County community of Beaverton has been at odds with its school district.
That contention is the result of sex crime allegations against 60-year-old ex-high school math teacher James Emery.
"It's a small community. Everybody tries to stick together. He was well known throughout the community and just for something like that to happen here is unfortunate," said Joe Lancaster, a Beaverton resident and parent.
Investigators say Emery took at least one photograph of a partially clothed former female student inside his home back in 2011.
"I think that he needs the full punishment of the law," added Beaverton resident Terry Johnson.
In a sentencing hearing last week, Emery was all set to plead guilty to having child sexually abusive material, a felony that carries a maximum of 20 years in prison. Under a sentencing agreement with prosecutors, Emery would serve no more than nine months in custody, even though state sentencing guidelines call for 12 to 20 months. The judge presiding over the case wasn't happy with that and rejected Emery's agreement. Locals say the judge did the right thing.
"I think he needs the maximum. I think he needs to be sentenced to the max. It's never gonna get stopped if they get away with it," Johnson added.
Attorneys we talked to say the judge's actions aren't the norm.
"It's not common but it does happen occasionally if a judge feels that's too far below the guidelines," said James Piazza.
Piazza is a criminal defense attorney and former assistant prosecutor. He says the case isn't over for the prosecutor, nor Emery's attorney.
"They go back to the drawing board, so to speak. They could try to work out another sentence agreement," he said.
Beaverton residents we spoke with just hope the time fits the crime. "I hope he gets what he deserves, that's more than nine months," said Lancaster.
During the investigation, there was also frustration with some school administrators, including the Beaverton schools superintendent. Some parents felt those officials didn't do enough to thoroughly investigate Emery's activities with students. The school board will be updating the public at its meeting Monday night about how they're responding to those frustrations.
Copyright 2012 WNEM (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.
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