Two East Valley teachers who pleaded guilty to sexually abusing students were each sentenced Friday in Maricopa County Superior Court to 19 years in prison.
David E. Welsh, a former teacher at Mesa's Whitman Elementary School, had admitted to molesting a 9-year-old third-grader he taught during the 2000-01 school year, and to trying to molest two third-graders he taught 21 years ago in the Kyrene Elementary School District.
Ronald Henry Harris, a Chandler resident who taught at a Glendale charter school, had pleaded guilty to child molestation, attempted sexual conduct with a minor and sexual abuse involving two of his students, ages 13 and 15.
In separate hearings, Judge Mark Aceto said both former teachers would be required to register as sexual offenders.
Welsh's sentencing followed emotional testimony from his parents, who are in their 70s, and his brother.
Deputy county attorney Angela Andrews said Welsh had shown no remorse.
“I am truly, truly sorry I am here before you today,” Welsh told Aceto.
None of the victims were present for Welsh's sentencing. But the parents of one of Harris' victims testified during his hearing. The mother said Harris had tricked her daughter into trusting him and that “the night he raped her, she was barely 13.”
“I have no excuse for my behavior,” Harris said. “That's not the kind of person I am today.”
Harris' case prompted the Arizona Board of Education and Arizona Board for Charter Schools to tighten screenings and background checks for charter school teachers.