Former FR coach sentenced to 5-10 years
A former Franklin Regional teacher will serve five to 10 years in jail and forfeit his pension after pleading guilty to having a 13-month sexual relationship with a female student.
Bret Anthony Thompson, 43, of Penn Hills, was sentenced Tuesday to five to 10 years in a state prison and 10 years of probation. He must register as a sex offender under Megan's Law. Thompson also must pay $5,400 in restitution.
“It doesn't seem to me that you understand the gravity of what you have done,” Judge John E. Blahovec said before sentencing Thompson. “If we can't send kids to school to be safe with teachers, where can we send them?”
In January, Thompson pled guilty to 46 counts of sex-related charges, ranging from endangering the welfare of children to unlawful contact with a minor.
The teenage victim testified that Thompson psychologically scarred her.
“He taught me how to lie, how to betray, how to deceive and how to take risks,” she said.
When she returned to school, she said, the teen felt “like a zoo animal, like everyone was staring at me.”
She said while she might appear strong, she isn't.
“I hope he realizes one thing, just one thing,” the teen said with a quavering voice. “He took away who I was, and I will never feel the same way again. ... Most of all, I miss being normal.”
The Murrysville Star does not identify victims of sex crimes.
Thompson will not receive a pension from the state for his 13 years of service at Franklin Regional, where he coached middle school basketball and taught physical education and health and wellness.
In March, the state Public School Employees Retirement System notified Thompson that his guilty plea forfeited his state pension under the Public Employee Pension Forfeiture Act. By pleading guilty, Thompson forfeited the right to all accrued benefits and contributions from his employer, according to a letter sent by the agency on March 10.
However, the nearly $45,000 Thompson contributed to the retirement fund can be refunded, but any fines or restitution levied on Thompson must be paid first.
Thompson surrendered his teaching license in October. He is ineligible for any retirement benefits from the state.
His attorney, Michael Alberty, asked that Thompson be sentenced to house arrest and rehabilitation. Alberty noted that Thompson has found steady work at a chain pharmacy and helps provide for his wife and 9-year-old son.
Denise Thompson made a tearful plea for her husband's release.
“We lost everything,” she said. “If I don't have his salary, even though minimal, after May 31, I don't know where we're going to live.”
Thompson has 10 days to appeal Blahovec's sentence. He was taken from the courtroom in handcuffs, as his wife cried out, “I love you! I love you!”
Daveen Rae Kurutz is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-856-7400, ext. 8627, or firstname.lastname@example.org.