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Penn Hills man who had relations with student will serve 10 years, must register as sex offender for 25 years

| Wednesday, April 17, 2013, 12:01 a.m.
Bret Thompson

A former Franklin Regional gym teacher and coach was sentenced Tuesday to serve five to 10 years in a state prison for having a 13-month sexual relationship with a student.

Judge John Blahovec rejected requests from Bret Anthony Thompson, 43, of Penn Hills, for leniency.

“If there's not some consequence to that ... what's the point in any of this?” Blahovec said. “I think any less of a sentence than that ... would make light of the situation.”

Thompson's prison sentence will be followed by 10 years of probation. He will have to register as a sex offender under Megan's Law for the next 25 years.

Thompson pleaded guilty in January to 46 charges relating to the case, records show.

Police said Thompson had sexual relations with the student — who was 16 at the time — on the Franklin Regional campus and elsewhere in Allegheny, Cumberland and Westmoreland counties between May 2011 and June 2012.

Thompson resigned from his teaching post in July when the investigation began and has been free on bond since his arrest.

Assistant District Attorney Barbara Jollie requested that he serve time in a state prison.

“He clearly manipulated this very vulnerable young girl and had her do whatever he wanted with her,” Jollie said. “He didn't think how this was going to affect anybody but himself.”

The victim testified about the emotional pain the relationship has caused her.

“He taught me how to lie ... how to deceive and how to take risks,” she said. “I hope someone understands how difficult it was for me to return to school.”

“He took away who I was,” she testified.

Thompson, his wife Denise Thompson and attorney Michael Alberty, asked Blahovec for a light sentence so the defendant can continue working at a pharmacy and provide for his family.

Bret Thompson expressed remorse for his actions and said he is receiving treatment.

Alberty said his client deserves leniency because Thompson took responsibility for his actions and could be rehabilitated.

Blahovec ordered that Thompson have no unsupervised contact with females younger than 18. Thompson was employed as a health and physical education teacher with the district from August 1999 to July 2012, according to school officials.

Renatta Signorini is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-837-5374 or rsignorini@tribweb.com.

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