LIMA — Perhaps a judge said it best Monday during the sentencing of a former Lima City Schools teacher who tried to have sex with a teenage student when he made the statement people don’t real know one another.
Gary Jones was once a well-respected teacher with many years of service. He’s now a sex offender off to jail for the next 60 days for a felony conviction of attempted sexual battery. He will have to register for the rest of his life as a sex offender and serve five years probation.
“This is one where it kind of proves the point we don’t really know people. Obviously, even our own family members don’t know us. I suppose everybody has a secret. Everybody has something they don’t even tell a family member or even their closest friend,” said Judge Jeffrey Reed of Allen County Common Pleas Court.
Jones’ attorney, Bill Kluge, told the judge his client, never in his wildest dreams, thought he would end up in a courtroom for such a case but Reed said perhaps it was more about living out his wildest dreams.
The 60-year-old Jones was a health teacher at Lima Senior when he noticed a 16-year-old girl from one of his classes sitting on her porch during spring break. He stopped by her house, called her to the car and asked her to go for a ride.
She never expected Jones to try anything and agreed to ride with him. During the ride, he stopped the car, put one hand behind her head and the other on her thigh while trying to kiss her. The girl immediately resisted.
It ended there but Jones later admitted to wanting to have sex with the girl, a prosecutor said.
Jones accepted blame saying his behavior was wrong.
“I am thankful to the victim that she acted more adult in this situation than I did,” he said. “I broke a trust that she had in me and that was terribly wrong."
He also apologized to the community, his family and the school system.
As it turned out, Jones was the teacher who also provided lessons on sexual assault crimes. He sometimes had a specialist on sexual violence speak to students.
Crime Victims’ Services Sexual Violence Prevention Specialist Aryn Banks said Jones brought her to class to talk to students about sexual violence prevention. One of the topics included how authority figures may try to use their position of trust to get to someone, she said.
Banks also told the judge the victim is unknown at school but many students are blaming whoever the student was.
“She’s very broken over this. She’s cried a lot,” Banks said.
Assistant Allen County Prosecutor Tony Miller became visibly upset in court when he read a letter from Nancy Davenport, who wrote the judge supporting Jones. She blamed the victim, Miller said.
“‘I realize this is no excuse but look at how these young girls dress. They are asking for trouble. Even our Lima Senior cheerleaders show everything they can and we have young and older men looking. At least Gary didn’t push himself on her when she refused his advances. No one has said how she was dressed,’” Miller read from Davenport’s letter.
Miller said he was offended. He made it clear the victim was not at fault and no one should blame her.
“It’s completely outrageous to blame the victim in this case,” Miller said.
Miller said he sees the way teens dress but that doesn’t mean a teacher can try to have sex with them.
“I see how teens dress. I don’t particularly like it in many instances but that’s a far cry from saying they’re to blame for something like this,” he said.
Lima City Schools Superintendent Jill Ackerman issued the following statement: “Under no circumstances will the Lima City Schools ever condone such behavior from any employee or volunteer who is entrusted with the care, custody and control of our children.”