A former Union Mine High School teacher and coach was sentenced to prison time and to register as a sex offender in a hearing Friday afternoon.
Judge Daniel B. Proud told David Robert Freeman and his attorney, Shannon Baker, that he could face up to three years, eight months in prison — what he was eventually sentenced to — despite a number of letters in support of him. He had pleaded no contest to 13 felonies related to unlawful sexual intercourse or oral copulation with a minor.
Prosecutor Deputy District Attorney Jamie Verwayen then listed off parts of the case that should be considered for determining the sentence. Freeman was a teacher with a “level of trust, level of responsibility” and a mandated reporter of the very crimes he committed. His victim was a minor, who needed counseling after the crimes were made public. He used sophistication to cover up and facilitate the crimes. He was 36 at the time, 19 years older than the victim.
“He needs to be told this is not OK,” and that his actions were not something society would accept, Verwayen said.
She then read an impact statement from the victim, who sat with her family in the audience.
At age 17, the letter said, she felt “emotionally broken” as her father was ill and would later die from the illness. She noted that she was Freeman’s babysitter, and she “never felt so used in my life,” even though she was “promised a fairytale future.” Instead, she said, she finally saw that she was being manipulated and that he lied to the school administration for two years.
The victim’s mother then stepped up and read her letter. She said Freeman took advantage of her daughter at a time when she was the primary caregiver for her father. After the crimes were made public, her daughter “cried a lot” and was depressed. She pulled away from friends and family. “He put my daughter through hell, but (she) is healing.”
The final impact statement from the victim’s husband was read by Verwayen, mostly reiterating sentiments from his wife and mother-in-law. He said that Freeman “failed to protect a young, innocent girl” who later became “extremely depressed” and would “cry for hours.” During the week of Freeman’s arrest, his wife had “uncontrollable anxiety.” Freeman “stole her young adult years.” He said that he “can never go to the high school I graduated from and feel the same.” Further, acquaintances would ask them about rumors regarding the case. “We will both have to deal with the scars for years to come.” He concluded with saying he does not consider Freeman “a grown man or mature.”
It was then the defense’s turn to speak, with Baker saying there was “no question that they had a completely inappropriate relationship,” but Freeman had pleaded to the 13 counts without any promise of leniency; he had pleaded to save the victim from having to testify and to avoid further stress within his own family. She noted that he had shown remorse over what he did and had written the victim a letter of apology. He felt he was in love with her at the time, but instead stayed with his wife.
He had not shown any inclination to reoffend in the four years since it happened, Baker said, though he and his wife have since separated. He was “taught a very serious lesson about mistakes” which cost his job, and he will likely lose his teaching credential. He will have difficulty finding another job, especially if he is made to register as a sex offender. She proposed only sentencing him to probation, instead.
Verwayen said that if he was registered, as a coach, he would not be able to be alone with the children — a second adult would be required to be present with Freeman. She also countered Baker by saying that Freeman had only shown remorse after the court process started. “He chose to do these actions…and he must face society’s deemed consequences.”
Proud went over the facts again. He noted that Freeman was both the victim’s teacher and employer, and that in her senior year, the victim had been a teacher’s assistant for him. Freeman had arranged for the victim to sit in on one of his classes to spend more time with her instead of going to a physical education class, but she still received an A grade in the PE class, showing Freeman had some control over her grades.
He manipulated the victim to have her not say anything about their relationship, including that his children would “lose their father” if she did.
Freeman had a very small prior record — a DUI in 2000.
He scored in the “low” category for reoffending.
Although he has been on unpaid leave, Freeman started a job on the side, which he later stopped in favor of disability benefits.
“This is a difficult case,” Proud said. He noted that, prior to both sides arguing about punishment, he had not made up his mind. But, he said, the court needs to “send a message, to those similarly inclined, teacher or not, that this…will not be tolerated.”
He then sentenced Freeman to three years in prison for the first count, eight months in prison on the second count, and three years for the other 11 counts to be served concurrently for a total of three years, eight months in prison. He also ordered Freeman to register as a sexual offender and for his blood and DNA to be taken. He levied nearly $2,600 in fines, with $840 stayed, and advised Freeman that he had 60 days to apply for an appeal. A criminal protective order was granted for the victim against Freeman and Freeman was banned from ever owning firearms.
Baker noted that Freeman had been suicidal, so Proud allowed him a turn-in date of Jan. 10 at 6 p.m. at the El Dorado County Jail. With a “Cruz” waiver, should he not appear at that time, he would face a “long, long” time in prison, Proud said.
“This is not a pleasant thing to do,” Proud concluded, “and not a pleasant thing (for either family). This is the part of the job I least like.”
After the hearing, Dave Johnson, who sat in the hearing in support of Freeman and the only person in the hearing to agree to comment, called the court process “the biggest travesty of justice I’ve ever seen. It was a joke. The judge should never have taken it, it should have gone to trial.”