More than 50 community members attended a court hearing to support a high school teacher who pled guilty to sexual offenses involving students and was sentenced to nearly five years in prison.
Former Fred T. Foard High School social studies teacher Jeb Stuart Bass, also an assistant football and basketball coach, pled guilty to two counts of indecent liberties with a child and one count of performing a sex act with a student, a number of news outlets reported. The students were 15 and 17 at the time of the offenses in 2015 and 2016.
Bass was sentenced to serve between 32 and 58 months in prison along with a suspended sentence of 10 to 21 months with 60 months of supervised probation following his release.
The mother of one of the victims spoke out against sending the 30-year-old Bass to prison, according to reports.
“Justice could be served without a prison sentence," the mother said at the hearing, according to a release from Catawba County Court, noting that the defendant was a young man who made a poor decision and would suffer for it.
The release added that more than 50 community members “packed the courtroom in support of [Bass], and some of them spoke for him by telling the court that Bass had already been adequately punished for his crimes by losing his job and the opportunity to interact with young people as a teacher and coach.”
“Cases like these divide our communities, and it was our job to find a resolution that balances justice and deterrence with the wishes of the victims,” District Attorney Scott Reilly said. “Now that this case is behind us, it is time for the county to come together and move forward.”
Bass was hired by the school in 2014 as a part-time social studies teacher and was made full-time after six months.