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Former teacher gets 5 years for sexual abuse.

Byline: Bill Bishop The Register-Guard

CORRECTION (ran 11/2/2005): A report Tuesday on Page D1 about the sentencing of former Mohawk High School teacher Dustin Beck for sexual abuse incorrectly described the position he held at his church. Beck was a volunteer youth counselor and was not a paid youth pastor.

Saying that sexual abuse is a crime and not mere "foolishness," a judge on Monday sentenced a former Mohawk High School science teacher to five years behind bars for abusing two former students at the school.

Dustin Timothy Beck, 32, who also coached soccer and was a youth pastor, got the sentence under a plea deal by pleading guilty to one count of second-degree sexual abuse, a felony, and four counts of misdemeanor third-degree sexual abuse. Other charges, including a Measure 11 charge of first-degree sexual abuse, were dropped in the deal.

The victims were "courageous and diligent" by stepping up to report the crimes in a small community, where they would be widely recognized, Deputy Lane County District Attorney Bill Warnisher said in court. He said Beck exploited his positions of power as a teacher, coach and religious adviser to take advantage of teenage girls who were new to the community and were "very vulnerable."

The abuse took place on several occasions between 2000 and 2004, according to court docu- ments.

A father of one victim, speaking before 30 courtroom spectators - both victims' families and Beck's relatives - said Beck abused his community, his school, his teams, and his congregation, in addition to the girls.

"This was cold and calculated," he told the judge.

The victims, standing side by side, told Beck they are pleased he is going to pay for his crimes.

One said she felt humiliated, embarrassed, ashamed and disappointed in herself at falling victim. She said it was difficult to report the crimes because of Beck's popularity.

It is The Register-Guard's policy not to identify victims of sex crimes.

In a statement to Lane County Circuit Judge Doug Mitchell, Beck said he intends to spend the rest of his life proving he has a good heart. He said he has "sincere regret" for the pain "caused by my foolishness."

Mitchell told Beck that the fact that Beck describes his conduct as "foolishness" instead of serious criminal behavior shows he needs treatment to change his thinking and no longer be a risk to the community.

"Prison is not going to make you a better person," Mitchell said. "The only hope you have will be for you to understand and accept what you did was criminal - not a mistake, not bad judgment. You need to take respon- sibility."

Under terms of the plea deal, Beck was sentenced to four years and four months in state prison, followed by eight months in the Lane County Jail. The arrangement allows Beck to begin sex offender treatment while completing the end of his term, defense lawyer Don Diment said in court.
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Title Annotation:Crime; A judge says the ex-coach must still accept the criminal nature of his actions
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Date:Nov 1, 2005
Words:491
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