Former Evergreen High music teacher William Eisenman will spend at least 15 years in prison following a June conviction for sexually assaulting one of his students.
Eisenman, 33, was convicted June 24 of sexual assault on a child by a person in a position of trust. Jefferson County District Judge Tamara Russell sentenced the former music and band teacher to a minimum of 15 years in prison Aug. 19, but the sentence could last for life if Department of Corrections experts conclude that he isn't rehabilitated when eligible for parole.
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 assaulted her in a hotel room on a school-sponsored band trip. That girl was 18 at the time of the incident. Eisenman was found not guilty of unlawful sexual contact with that woman but was convicted of providing alcohol to a minor.
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 on and off school property, including in Eisenman's home.
Powerful statements from the victims' parents and Eisenman's wife brought a full courtroom to silence before the judge pronounced the sentence.
"Learning that my 16-year-old daughter had been repeatedly sexually assaulted by her high school teacher has been the worst nightmare of my life," said the father of the younger victim. He said Eisenman is the worst kind of sexual predator because he sought a job at the high school to have access to female students.
"You're a despicable creature," the father told Eisenman, who was flanked by his defense attorneys. The father said Eisenman preyed on his daughter like "a lion preys on the unsuspecting."
The father said the impact of the case on his family and the community has been "immense," and that "we are all victims of your deceit." He chastised Eisenman for letting his defense attorneys tell jurors that his daughter's view of the relationship was "fantasy."
The father added that the high school band has moved on.
"The band has moved on without you," the father said. "And may the music never die."
The victim's mother spoke briefly, echoing her husband's statements and adding one of her own.
"To him (Eisenman), the lines of right and wrong are apparently blurred," the woman said.
Eisenman's wife asked the judge to sentence her husband to the maximum penalty, which in this case would have been at least 24 years in prison.
Eisenman chocked back tears as he addressed the court.
"There aren't words to describe how sorry and ashamed I am," he said.
"I've hurt so many people," Eisenman said. "I can't come up with anybody who hasn't been affected by this." He spoke of the damage he's done to not only the victims and their families but his own family as well.
"My daughter is going to grow up without her daddy," he said. "Nobody did anything wrong but me. I'm a good person who acted really, really dumb."
Lee Harrell, one of Eisenman's attorneys, said his client committed a "horrible crime," but that the judge needed to balance punishment with rehabilitation. He added that the shortest possible sentence of eight years was a very long time to spend in prison, and even then Eisenman wouldn't be released unless he was deemed rehabilitated. Harrell also mentioned that female teachers accused and convicted of similar crimes do not spend nearly as much time in prison.
Harrell file a notice of appeal, and also a motion to have the public defender's office handle the appeal.