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Ex-Teacher Gets 5 Years in Sex With Student

TIMES STAFF WRITER

A former religion teacher at an Ojai Valley private school was sentenced to five years in state prison Friday for having sex with a 17-year-old student.

James Eric Woodstock Jr., 32, pleaded guilty in May to three charges of unlawful sex with a minor, plus an allegation that he caused great bodily injury to the girl by getting her pregnant.

“It really was a tragic case because of the impact on the victim’s life,” Deputy Dist. Atty. Linda Groberg said. “He was her religion and morality teacher.”

Before his sentencing hearing, Woodstock, a Ventura resident, sat in the holding area of the courtroom with his head bowed and made no eye contact with anyone.

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When his case was called, the teenage girl he had sex with read a brief statement to the court. Now 18, she is nine months’ pregnant and due to give birth in six weeks.

In addressing the court, the teenager talked about the pain and suffering Woodstock brought to his wife by deceiving her and breaking their vows. And she urged the judge to impose a sentence that would ensure he doesn’t harm anyone else.

“James will continue to take advantage and victimize others unless strong action is taken,” she said.

The girl’s mother spoke next, asking the judge to deny probation and send Woodstock to prison. She said he has not apologized to her daughter.

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In Woodstock’s defense, attorney Tim Quinn reminded the court that the sexual relationship had been consensual. Quinn declined to comment on the case after the hearing.

Although Woodstock could have faced up to seven years in prison, Municipal Judge Bruce A. Clark granted the middle term of five years.

After the hearing, Groberg said the girl’s family was satisfied with the sentence. Because of the bodily injury allegation, Woodstock must serve 85% of his sentence, or more than four years, she said.

Woodstock was a teacher at Villanova Preparatory School in Ojai at the time of the sexual relationship, which Groberg said began with a kiss when the girl was age 16 and followed with suggestive e-mails.

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Authorities said Woodstock had a consensual--but illegal--sexual relationship with the teenager for more than a month between November and December of last year.

Woodstock was suspended from his job a month later as the Ventura County Sheriff’s Department began an investigation, and school officials sent a letter to the parents of 270 students informing them of the incident.

The letter assured parents that the incident between the teacher and student was an isolated situation.

By law, having sex with someone under 18 is a crime. Although Woodstock faced seven identical criminal charges, four were dismissed at Friday’s hearing after Woodstock changed his plea from not guilty to guilty.

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In addition to prison time, the former teacher was ordered to pay $3,000 in restitution and ordered to have no contact with the teenage girl.


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