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BRIGHTON — A former Brighton Collegiate High School teacher convicted of attempted sexual assault on a child by a person in a position of trust will spend 90 days in the Adams County Jail and …
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BRIGHTON — A former Brighton Collegiate High School teacher convicted of attempted sexual assault on a child by a person in a position of trust will spend 90 days in the Adams County Jail and then likely be deported back to his native Ireland.
Kelly, 35, was sentenced Friday morning in Adams County Court more than a year after he was arrested when a 16-year-old male Brighton Collegiate student alleged the social studies teacher engaged in inappropriate sexual contact with him. Judge Francis C. Wasserman ruled that Kelly did not meet the criteria to be classified a sexually violent predator but, as part of the sentence, he ordered Kelly be subject to 10 years of sex offender intensified probation.
However, with Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents waiting in the courtroom to apprehend Kelly, Wasserman acknowledged that deportation could be viewed as his “free ticket home.”
“You were in a position of trust,” Wasserman said. “You held all the cards. You held the power over this kid. That’s not going to be left unpunished.”
Wasserman’s sentence came despite a presentence recommendation from the probation department that Kelly be sentenced to a prison term in the Colorado Department of Corrections. His attorney, Lisa Wayne, contended that sending her client, a non-U.S. citizen and also a homosexual, to prison would leave him vulnerable. She also questioned the wisdom of such a sentence in light of the state’s budget crisis and overcrowded prisons.
Wayne also pointed the finger of blame at Brighton Collegiate, formerly Brighton Charter School. She said the school had problems in terms of boundaries and pointed out teachers weren’t discouraged from calling students outside of the school environment and developing personal relationships. She said that type of culture contributed to the incident in an empty classroom with the student, also a homosexual.
“There is an environment at Brighton Collegiate High School, unfortunately for my client, that promoted this family environment,” Wayne said.
One teacher and one substitute teacher at the former Brighton Charter School pleaded guilty in 2007 to inappropriate sexual contact with students in separate incidents.
Several of Kelly’s friends, including a pair of lawyers who befriended Kelly during frequent golf outings, spoke of his integrity and his ambitions of being a U.S. citizen and a teacher. They spoke of how Kelly would suffer having to give those dreams up when he is eventually deported. Kelly had been in the United States for six years on a visa. A number of individuals in the courtroom on Kelly’s behalf also submitted letters attesting to his integrity.
Kelly, emotional after sitting through many court hearings stoically, paused to wipe away tears before he addressed Wasserman. He acknowledged how his actions affected everybody and apologized.
The victim and his family did not attend Friday’s sentencing.
After Wayne was finished, Deputy District Attorney Sarah Collins didn’t dispute Kelly’s likeability.
“If this is a popularity contest, Mr. Kelly wins hands down,” she said.
Instead, she said Kelly was a person in a position of trust who committed a sexual crime. Collins also referenced an unprosecuted allegation that surfaced in the past year that Kelly allegedly engaged in a sexual relationship with another young male while working as an au pair for a family in the eastern United States about 17 years ago. Collins said it was proof that Kelly’s actions were part of a pattern, not an isolated incident.
While Collins said she didn’t believe Kelly should be deemed a sexually violent predator, she said she did worry for the safety of the community and believed he should be sentenced to a prison term.
“Recently there have been a number of sexual assaults on students by their teachers in Adams County,” Adams County District Attorney Don Quick said in a statement after the sentencing. “These situations are aggravated by the position of trust that the teachers hold.”
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