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Victims of South Medford teacher speak in court

Two of Richard Michael Fay's former students lamented in court the innocence they lost before watching their former teacher taken away to prison Tuesday for child pornography and sex abuse.

Fay, 39, a former South Medford High School social studies teacher, was sentenced to more than 10½ years in prison in Jackson County Circuit Court for felony crimes stemming from inappropriate relationships with two female juvenile students.

His crimes include child pornography and luring a minor for soliciting lewd photographs from the two girls he met through the school, one of whom he also engaged in physical sexual contact.

From the audience, one victim said that she's long wanted to be a teacher herself, so she looked up to Fay as her "favorite teacher." She said that at first she didn't "feel the manipulation," but found the way Fay engaged with her exciting because it came from someone she so highly regarded. Now, she's suspicious of all male teachers and is currently working through her experience with a counselor, she said.

The second victim, while facing Circuit Judge Lorenzo Mejia at a podium, told the court she felt she "couldn't say no to someone so respected." During the inappropriate relationship, the second victim said Fay made her believe he was "integral to my happiness."

"This has not been easy; it has not been difficult, it has been truly devastating," the second victim said. "He took something from me I was not ready to give."

Deputy District Attorney Zori Cook, who prosecuted the case, thanked the Southern Oregon High Tech Crimes Task Force for its efforts, saying the digital evidence was "astounding." Cook called it a "sad situation," because by all accounts Fay was a charismatic, talented and inspiring teacher.

"We're not calling it grooming, we're calling it manipulation," Cook said. "He used his charm to get what he wanted from these girls."

Fay used text messages and various online messaging apps to communicate with his underage students, according to a release issued by Cook. Over a period of months, Fay manipulated the victims into explicit conversations before soliciting nude photographs from them. Forensic analysis of cellphones and computers yielded multiple explicit pictures, according to the release.

Fay also touched one of the victim's genitals while he was giving her a ride home following a school event.

Fay's lawyer Robert Schrank said his client has "shown remorse since day one." He attributed his client's behavior to sex addiction, for which Fay has since attended 12-step meetings and has a sponsor.

Fay referred to the "dangers of sex addiction" before apologizing to the victims and the community.

"Ultimately I am responsible for my own actions," Fay said. "I am so sorry for the hurt and pain I have caused."

Fay denied prosecutors' claims that his solicitations to juvenile victims were intentionally predatory. Rather, after 14 years of teaching, he said that his addiction manifested about October 2015, at a time when he found his life "in crisis." To one of the victims, Fay said he "failed completely" to see her "as a child."

"Unlike in the classroom, there are no retakes in life," Fay said.

Mejia concurred at sentencing.

"There are some things you just can't take back," Mejia said. "You crossed that line."

Fay pleaded guilty June 14 to felony counts of using a child in a display of sexually explicit conduct, attempting to use a child in a display of sexually explicit conduct and luring a minor, and to a misdemeanor charge of third-degree sexual abuse. 

Mejia sentenced Fay to 130 months in prison, and Fay will have to register as a sex offender for life. The child pornography charge carries a mandatory minimum 70-month prison sentence; afterward, Fay will be eligible for earned time for good behavior and alternative programs if available.

Mejia told the victims that although Fay's sentence was negotiated previously, what they said during the hearing was "not in vain."

"I know this was very impactful, but I hope it does not define you or your future," Mejia said.

 — Reach reporter Nick Morgan at 541-776-4471 or nmorgan@mailtribune.com. Follow him on Twitter at @MTCrimeBeat.

Richard Michael Fay