FAYETTEVILLE — For the three lives Fayette County Circuit Judge Paul M. Blake Jr. said Joshua Taylor ruined, the defendant who pleaded guilty to sexual abuse by a parent, guardian, custodian or person of trust, will spend most of the rest of his in prison.
Taylor, a former physical education teacher at Collins Middle School, is already serving a 15-year federal sentence for receiving child pornography on his cell phone. Blake sentenced Taylor to an indeterminate sentence of 10-to-20 years in the state penitentiary to be service consecutively with the federal time. The defendant's 20-year probation after his sentences are served will be concurrent with his federal probation, Blake ordered.
"You're a lucky individual in a lot of ways," the judge told Taylor, noting that he was indicted on 19 felony counts, but was allowed to plead to one. Blake said Taylor committed at least five felonies on the night he took a 13-year-old Collins Middle School student to a Raleigh County motel. "You get a free ride on those," Blake said.
Taylor admitted to sending a large number of text messages to the same student, and those text messages were sexually graphic, according to Fayette County Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Roger Lambert. Lambert said Taylor had tried to cast the female student as the aggressor in the relationship.
"It's simply not true," Lambert said. "This defendant manipulated this child into thinking she had found her Prince Charming, who was going to take her away, who was going to marry her."
Lambert said Taylor was only interested in gratifying his own sexual desires, "which makes it even more heinous, even more wrong."
"You groomed this young lady," Blake told Taylor. "You were the shoulder for her to lean on; she thought she could trust you. You give teachers a bad name."
The judge lectured Taylor about marriage, pointing out the defendant was married fewer than five years when the relationship with the student began. Taylor's wife has since filed for divorce.
"You've destroyed a number of lives — yourself, your wife and this child will never be the same," Blake said.
Taylor did address the court prior to his sentencing, saying that he was a changed person from the man who first walked into court 23 months ago. He said he had researched two questions during his incarceration.
"How could I make the biggest mistake of my life? What led me to these terrible decisions?" Taylor said. "I'm embarrassed. I'm ashamed."
The defendant relied heavily on biblical texts to answer those questions, telling Blake he had tried to find comfort in the Bible. Taylor said he finally concluded that he didn't have God in his life at the time the relationship began.
Taylor expressed remorse for his crimes and his sorrow for the victim, as well.
"I'm so honestly sorry. All I can do is pray for her spiritual well-being," he said.
Blake dismissed Taylor's lengthy speech as manipulative.
"You fit the profile of a psychopath," Blake said reading the definition as "very manipulative" with the ability to gain people's trust, mimicking their emotions and appearing normal to unsuspecting people, all the while feeling no genuine emotions of their own. Blake denied defense attorney Scott Stanton's motion for probation with sex offender treatment "because (the defendant) appear(s) to be a psychopath and a sexual predator."
"You'd just go through the motions," Blake said.
Blake also ordered Taylor to pay the victim's family more than $1,100 for her therapy treatment and court costs and a $2,500 fine within 36 months of his release from prison.
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