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Ex-teacher gets 7 years in resentencing for sex relationship with student

James D. Van Valkinburgh, the former Sacred Heart Academy teacher who had a sexual relationship with one of his students, was resentenced Wednesday to a term likely to keep him behind bars for as long as, or longer than, his original sentence.

During resentencing, State Supreme Court Justice M. William Boller imposed a seven-year prison term on Van Valkinburgh, who had pleaded guilty to three counts of third-degree rape for having sex with the student, including once in her parents' home.

State Supreme Court Justice John L. Michalski on May 21, 2008, had sentenced Van Valkinburgh to up to nine years in prison. But defense attorney Paul A. Bender won a resentencing when he protested that Michalski's daughter attended Sacred Heart.

Boller denounced Van Valkinburgh for his "shameless" conduct, interested in satisfying "your own prurient needs." Van Valkinburgh appeared in court in the green prison garb he wears during his incarceration in Groveland Correctional Facility.

During resentencing, the victim, her father, brother, a prosecutor and the judge denounced Van Valkinburgh, 45. The victim, now 19, told the judge that Van Valkinburgh -- her former mentor -- "has not yet accepted the responsibility" for his "destructive decisions." And the victim's father said the crime has left his daughter emotionally scarred.

Valkinburgh had sexual encounters with the girl from July through October in 2007. School officials fired him after he refused to back away from his involvement with the girl.

Reading from a prepared script, Van Valkinburgh said he has learned through counseling he "was selfish and irresponsible and deserved to be punished" for his crimes, which cost him his career, freedom and marriage.

Boller also sentenced Van Valkinburgh to 10 years of court supervision after his release from prison, possibly in 2014. At the request of prosecutor Rosanne Eimer Johnson, the judge also barred him from trying to contact the victim until 2023.

District Attorney Frank A. Sedita III said that under the "indefinite" prison term of three to nine years Van Valkinburgh received two years ago, he would have become eligible for parole consideration next year. But under the seven-year prison term Boller imposed Wednesday he cannot be considered for parole until 2014.


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