A former Tulsa-area middle school teacher was sentenced this week after pleading no contest to charges that he kissed and fondled a 12-year-old student at Thoreau Demonstration Academy.
Brian Christian Drabek, 42, was charged with four counts of lewd molestation and one count of lewd proposals to a child last May after the girl's mother reported that the teacher had taken her daughter from their home without the mother's knowledge or permission. While police were questioning the girl about the relationship, the teacher was sending her text messages.
Prosecutors said Drabek kissed the girl on two separate occasions, groped her breasts, and asked her to shower with him. They also accused him of threatening the girl is she ever told anyone by telling her he would have her family deported.
The girl's mother is filing a lawsuit against Tulsa Public Schools alleging that staff members knew of an improper relationship between the teacher and her daughter, but failed to take action to protect her daughter until after she filed a protective order against Drabek.
Early last month, Drabek entered a blind plea--one without a plea agreement in place--of nolo contendere, or no contest. A no contest plea is not an admission of guilt, but an acknowledgement that the prosecution has enough evidence to convict. Despite the lack of a guilty plea, at sentencing Drabek said there was "no excuse" for his actions, and he apologized for his involvement with the girl.
During an aggravation and mitigation hearing to determine an appropriate sentence, character witnesses for the defense described the teacher as being a good man who acted out of character in the relationship due to a deep depression over the dissolution of his marriage and his ex-wife's subsequent remarriage. They said he found "fulfillment" when the girl showed concern for him.
The prosecution, however, said that the defendant continued to express his love for the girl and admitted to a "years long" attraction to middle school-aged girls.
Tulsa County District Judge James Caputo was unswayed by character witness testimony and said that the defendant showed a lack of remorse for his actions. He handed down 20-year sentences for each count, with 10 years suspended for each. All sentences are to run concurrently. The former teacher must serve at least 85 percent of his sentence, or 8-1/2 years, before becoming eligible for parole.
Upon his release from prison, Drabek will be ordered to undergo mental health treatment and to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life.
Image Credit: Chris Miller