A West Texas court sentenced a former high school teacher to 110 years in prison for sexual misconduct with two students. The teacher received a clear message after he pleaded guilty to nine counts of sexual misconduct. One of the students was a minor that he entered into a dominance-submissive contract.
Jay Dee Burns, 45, a former social studies teacher and academic decathlon coach at Permian High School, pleaded guilty Monday before the Ector County 70th District Court to four counts of improper relationship between an educator and a student, three counts of sexual assault of a child, one count of indecency with a child, and one count of stalking.
The punishment phase of Burns’ trial began Tuesday when the two teenage female victims took the witness stand. By Wednesday morning, the prosecution rested its case and the defense brought up Burns’ childhood friend to testify on his behalf. The two knew each other since they were in a youth group, Odessa’s KWES 9 (NBC) reported.
After deliberating several hours Wednesday, the jury sentenced Burns to 10 years for each of the four counts of an improper relationship between an educator and student, 15 years on each of the three counts of sexual assault, 15 years on one count of indecency with a child, and 10 years on one count of stalking, according to the Odessa NBC affiliate, a total of 110 years. Burns’ formal sentencing will take place on May 4.
In earlier reports, the Odessa American noted Burns faced up to 170 years behind bars based on the maximum 20 years for each second-degree felony count and 10 years on the stalking charge. They indicated Burns was eligible for probation because he had no prior felony convictions, although he would have to register as a sex offender. In February, Burns rejected a plea deal that the district attorney’s office then rescinded, leading to this trial.
On Tuesday, the two teenage female high school victims testified they each had brief sexual encounters with Burns. One was over 18-years old at the time of the improprieties. Both girls’ relationships with Burns began over social media, on Tumblir and the kinky fetish website FetLife. The relationships also included communications over encrypted phone apps Kik and Wickr, according to various reports. The girls knew each other, although they had separate relationships with Burns.
When the victims testified, they said Burns told them their lives would be ruined if they ever spoke to other people about him and the improper teacher-student sexual relationships that took place in 2015. Odessa newspaper shared the details of the sexual dominant-submissive contract between Burns and the then-16-year-old female student.
Among the rules, it stated the girl had to submit to Burns at any place and any time, must be honest and respectful to Burns, and keep and straighten her relationship with God. She also had to “confess any transgressions,” maintain their relationship as the primary one in her life, and give thanks to Burns for gifts and praise he gave her.
The 16-year-old testified Burns gave her a necklace and bracelet last year which was supposed to symbolize that he “owned” her. She later returned these gifts to him.
On March 31, 2015, Odessa police launched the investigation on the Ector County Independent School District teacher after the 18-year-old girl was hospitalized for a drug overdose. At the time, she admitted to the relationship with Burns. Officers arrested the teacher but he bonded out of the Ector County Detention Center. Burns resigned from Permian High last June.
The 18-year-old told jurors she took handfuls of anti-depressants, anti-anxiety pills, and Tylenol. Odessa Police Detective Diana Seago testified that officers searched Burns’ residence after receiving a warrant. They found a duffle bag filled with women’s lingerie, rope, sex toys, and a penis pump. Odessa PD also found a set of handcuffs in a drawer. According to KWES 9, officers found portions of a typed letter sent to one of the two female students that was entered as evidence in court. It told one of the girls not to give up on the relationship and he was “preparing a place.”
Both females testified to performing oral sex on Burns and said he spanked them plus performed other sexual acts on them in their respective relationships.
The Odessa American reported four other Permian High School teachers faced charges of improper sexual relationships with students. On Monday, two of them went to the 11th Court of Appeals. The first case was dismissed on a ruling that the laws used to indict the high school’s former swim coach Kathryn Maples, accused of an inappropriate relationship with a 17-year-old male student, were unconstitutional. The other case remains pending. Former school trainer April Collins faces one count of an improper relationship based on text messages she sent to a male student in 2013.
In 2014, former Permian High teacher Robert Young was acquitted on two counts of improper relationship between educator and student. That same year, former Permian teacher Mark Lampman, accused of an improper relationship with a student, was found dead of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound.
Former physical education coach at the district’s Bonham’s Jr. High and assistant Permian High softball coach Alisha Carrasco Knighten awaits trial on charges of having a sexual relationship with a then 18-year-old female student in 2014.
Follow Merrill Hope on Twitter @OutOfTheBoxMom.