‘Repugnant’ teacher’s 21-year molest sentence affirmed

A Seymour Middle School math teacher lost his appeal and will serve the 21-year sentence imposed by the trial court for grooming and molesting a student whose parents say she was “broken” by the experience. One Court of Appeals judge wrote he might have added years to the teacher’s sentence, had the state asked.

Aaron D. Murray appealed his 21-year sentence imposed when he pleaded guilty to a count of Level 4 felony child molesting. His sentence was above the advisory range but below the maximum possible sentence of 36 years.

Murray’s victim was 12 to 13 years old at the time he molested her. The COA tersely rejected his appeal of the sentence he argued was inappropriate based on his character and the nature of the offense. The court noted his crimes involved abuses of positions of trust and that numerous other charges against him were dropped as part of his plea deal.

“In light of Murray’s egregious betrayals of his positions of trust … his dozens of depraved phone calls to an emotionally vulnerable victim in violation of a no-contact order, and his utter lack of remorse or acceptance of responsibility, if the State had asked us to impose a harsher sentence, I would have been inclined to grant that request,” Judge Terry Crone “reluctantly” concurred in Aaron D. Murray v. State of Indiana, 36A04-1608-CR-1841.

Writing for the court, Judge John Baker noted the victim had been groomed by Murray, who also was a leader at the church the victim’s family attended, and he exploited those relationships to pursue the victim at church, school, and elsewhere. Baker wrote that the child had been receiving inpatient psychiatric care and was suicidal at the time Murray was sentenced, yet he “continued to call her and explicitly talk about sex” more than 50 times over 20 hours.

“We do not find that the abhorrent nature of the offenses aids Murray’s argument,” Baker wrote. “…. Murray’s actions and behavior are repugnant, and we do not find that his character aids his argument. If anything, we believe the trial court exercised admirable restraint in suspending a portion of Murray’s sentence to probation.”

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