Says victims didn’t want to go through torture of trial
Former Destrehan High School band teacher Byron Toups, 40, will serve six months in prison and six months of home incarceration after pleading guilty to malfeasance in office, intimidation of a witness and simple battery in a case involving two high school students.
Judge Lauren Lemmon, who presided over the case, told Toups that the only reason she approved a reduced sentence is because the victims didn’t want to go through the torture of a trial or have Toups rot in prison.
Toups was originally charged with molestation, which has a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison. However, he pled guilty to three lesser charges as part of his plea agreement.
His trial had been scheduled for September.
In addition to the prison term, Toups received a five-year suspended sentence and was placed on active probation for five years. The conditions of his probation say that he cannot be employed as a teacher or tutor with any student under the age of college level and cannot have contact with students under the age of 19.
He also must complete an anger management course and can’t have contact with the victims or potential witnesses in his case.
The malfeasance in office charge stemmed from an incident during February of 2007 when Toups behaved indecently with a 16-year-old student at his house.
The victim gave two statements in the case, first saying that she didn’t know Toups and then admitting that the two had sex, according to court documents.
However, Toups was not convicted of a sex offense because parish prosecutors thought they might have had problems getting the victim to testify in a trial.
In July of that same year, Toups took a band student into the nurse’s office at the school, pinned the victim against the wall with his body and attempted to kiss her behind a locked door, all without consent.
After committing the battery and assault, Toups grabbed the student’s hands and threatened her that if anyone found out about the incident, she would regret it, according to court documents.
That incident led to Toups pleading guilty to simple battery and intimidation of a witness.
Judge Lauren Lemmon had harsh words for Toups before the sentencing, telling him that he was lucky that the two victims did not want him to rot and didn’t want to go through the agony of a trial.
“To play a role, have that age difference, and have an authoritative role and do the kinds of things you did, I think are unforgivable,” she said.
Lemmon added that she thinks people should be forgiven, but that the things Toups did were “disgusting” and a “disgrace.”
Toups was ordered to report to jail on Sept. 21.
In a separate civil case in federal court, one of the two victims and another former student are suing both Toups and the school system, claiming they were victims of sexual harassment and sexual discrimination.