Ex-EHS teacher guilty of sex assault

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By AJ Vicens

Former Evergreen High music teacher William Eisenman, on trial for 13 sexual assault counts involving sexual relations with two students, was found guilty June 24 of sexual assault on a child by a person in a position of trust.

He also was convicted of providing alcohol to a minor but was acquitted of one count of unlawful sexual contact. He faces a mandatory prison term of eight to 24 years in prison, and possibly life behind bars. A sentencing date had yet to be set.

The verdict came hours after Eisenman, 33, was painted by a prosecutor as a manipulative predator who lured two female students into having sex with him.

The characterization came in closing arguments during Eisenman’s trial in Jefferson County District Court. Deputy District Attorney Dana Easter also charged that Eisenman falsely claimed to be dying of a heart condition to get the girls to have sex with him.

Lee Harrell, Eisenman's lead defense attorney, said in his closing that although the former band teacher at Evergreen’s high school and middle school did have "inappropriate" relationships with two students, crimes were never committed. Harrell dismissed as “fantasy” claims that Eisenman and a then-16-year-old girl had an ongoing sexual relationship.

The Jefferson County Sheriff's Office began investigating Eisenman in the spring of 2007 after two female EHS students lodged separate sexual assault accusations against him.

One of the girls alleged that Eisenman came to her hotel room, where they kissed and he touched her breast. That girl was 18 at the time of the incident, so the charge in that case relates to her being unwilling to participate in the sexual contact.

The other girl, 16 at the time, alleged that she and Eisenman had a sexual relationship between March 2, 2007, and May 18, 2007, that included sex in hotels, EHS' band office, orchestra pit, uniform room, at an all-state band competition, and at his home. One of the incidents allegedly involved not only Eisenman but a man he met on the Internet, according to the girl.

"You all have had to listen to some very depraved testimony," Easter said. "I would like to rest those things right where they belong," she added, pointing to a calm Eisenman at the defense table. "That is the man that told her she had to do those things because he was dying."

Easter painted a picture of a student in love with her teacher, and of that teacher using his "amazing power over her" to fulfill his sexual desires.

Harrell opened his closing statement by conceding that Eisenman did have an "inappropriate, unprofessional" relationship with two students.

"Perhaps he shouldn't teach again," Harrell said, adding that the case was not about morality or "deviant sexual behavior," but rather was "to decide whether or not the evidence has proven each and every element of every charge beyond a reasonable doubt."

Neither of the relationships was criminal, Harrell maintained, citing the 18-year-old, who said her experience with Eisenman was "exciting" and "no big deal."

Harrell said that the then-16-year-old created a "fantasy" world in which she and Eisenman would remain in contact for years, the result of an emotionally vulnerable girl who was having a hard time dealing with multiple breakups with the same boyfriend.

He also said that it was remarkable none of the girl’s friends or family knew about the relationship, even though she had many close band friends and a very close family.

Eisenman was hired as a Jeffco Public Schools teacher in August 2006 and was put on paid administrative leave on May 2 of last year.