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Former teacher sentenced to jail

July 15, 2004|by RICHARD BELISLE

waynesboro@herald-mail.com

"You're going to jail. You will never teach again," Franklin County Judge John R. Walker told a former Fannett-Metal High School teacher Wednesday while sentencing him to nine to 23 months on three counts of corruption of minors involving three teenage students.

William Bradley Palm, who turned 24 Wednesday, will serve nine months in jail. He will be on parole for the next 14 months, then on probation for four years.

Walker also ordered Palm to enter the sex offender program, have no contact with his victims, never work with minors again and surrender his teaching certificate.

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Palm, who was free on bond, has been working at a golf course cutting grass, his lawyer said. He was dismissed from his teaching job in April.

Palm, in a plea deal, pleaded guilty in June to three counts of corruption of minors, a first-degree misdemeanor. Each carried a maximum sentence of five years.

Pennsylvania State Police charged Palm, of Boiling Springs, Pa., in March with felony counts of statutory sexual assault and aggravated indecent assault, three counts of corruption and one count of indecent assault.

According to court records, the incidents occurred between October 2003, and March 15.

One girl told police she had sexual contact with Palm in a classroom after school and on another occasion in a car, court records said. The other girls said the contact occurred off school property in vehicles, according to police records.

All three of the girls were Palm's students. A second-year teacher, he taught history and world cultures.

None of the victims was in court Wednesday.

At the time of the incidents, they were 15, 16 and 17 years old, court records state.

Fannett-Metal is a small school district in the far northwest portion of Franklin County. Palm was the only social studies teacher in the 150-student high school.

Before being sentenced, Palm, who came to court in a gray suit, apologized to the families of the victims, took responsibility for his actions and said he failed in his duties as a teacher.

"I crossed the line," he said. "This is the biggest mistake of my life. It cost me my career."

"It's not unusual for a teacher to flirt with students, but having sexual relations with them is a different situation," the judge told the defendant.

"You really dummied up," Walker said. "You were put in position of teacher."

"The bottom line is that you took advantage," Walker told Palm. "You knew they were underage. You're going to jail."

"When parents send their children to school they think they will be safe," the judge said. "They expect teachers to be role models. You fell flat on your face. It's the dumbest thing a teacher can do.

"The next time you get a girlfriend make sure you see her driver's license," Walker said.

Walker agreed to a request by Palm's lawyer to let him serve his time in a work-release program in the Dauphin County, Pa., prison system.

Palm's parents were in court Wednesday. His mother left the courtroom in tears.

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