Former Boardman teacher sentenced for sexual battery - 21 News Now, More Local News for Youngstown, Ohio -

Former Boardman teacher sentenced for sexual battery

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YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio - A former Boardman High School teacher begins serving his sentence for taking advantage of a student six years ago.

Before 34-year-old Joseph Cleghorn was sentenced for sexual battery, the former Boardman High School teacher made a public apology to the court, the victim, the victim's family, and his own family.

Cleghorn told the court he let his family down, his profession, and most importantly, I let the victim down. "I was in a position where I should not have acted the way I did," Cleghorn said.

What he did as a teacher at Boardman High was take advantage of a student who was 16 at the time.

His attorney, Ron Yarwood, told Judge Lou D'Apolito before the sentencing that Cleghorn has lost his job, has been humiliated, can never teach again, can never coach, and has never been in trouble before. Yarwood asked the judge to give his client probation. The prosecutor's office also gave a recommendation of probation.

However, Judge D'Apolito said that a sentence without jail time or incarceration would diminish the seriousness of the crime. D'Apolito said, "We have to protect children." He then sentenced Cleghorn to a sentence of three years probation, with the first six months to be served in the Mahoning County Jail.

Cleghorn must also register as a sex offender for ten years.

Cleghorn's wife of about a year broke down sobbing and had to be asked to leave the courtroom. Other family members cried or tried to comfort others who were crying.

The victim who is now 22 also had tears in her eyes after the judge announced the sentence. We are not naming her to protect her identity.

She tells 21 News she is happy with Judge D'Apolito's sentence adding she came forward after she had a son this year and began to realize more and more that what Cleghorn did was wrong.

She also said that she didn't want Cleghorn to continue as a teacher so he couldn't do the same to another young person.

The victim's mother says she believes teachers and school districts are supposed to protect students in their care. She said prior to what happened, she had contacted the principal at Boardman High School after her daughter received a text from her teacher, Joseph Cleghorn. She said the text didn't contain inappropriate information, however it was inappropriate that a teacher was texting her daughter.

The mother says the principal assured her that Cleghorn would not contact her daughter in any shape or form, but it didn't matter; Cleghorn pursued her daughter.

The mother says it has been very difficult for her daughter and family, but they feel justice has been served. She feels Judge D'Apolito's sentence should send a message to teachers that they cannot take advantage of the students that they are there to teach and to protect them.

She says when Cleghorn used his position of power to take advantage of a student, at minimum he should lose his license to teach, lose his job, ability to coach, and be forced to register as a sex offender.

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