The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Local News

January 26, 2008

Teacher gets max sentence in sex case

Statement of remorse doesn't sway judge, girl's relatives

LE CENTER — A former Montgomery teacher and coach who had ongoing sexual relations with a 14-year-old student has been given a 12-year prison sentence — the maximum allowed for the crime.

Troy Bernard sobbed and put his head in his hands as Judge Richard Perkins sentenced him Friday in Le Sueur County District Court.

“You knew — you knew! — what you were doing was wrong, and you knew it better than 98 percent of the sex offenders I see in this court, and that concerns me greatly. That’s a huge red flag,” Perkins told Bernard.

“We believe you’re remorseful, but we’re not sure to what, and to whom.”

Moments earlier, his voice breaking with emotion, the 36-year-old Bernard had addressed the court, speaking of how sorry he was for his actions.

“I can’t imagine what I’ve put their family through,” he said. “It was never my intention to hurt anyone ... I have so much turmoil and anguish.”

But relatives of the girl, during their victim impact statements, painted Bernard as a manipulative, methodical predator.

“She couldn’t imagine you’d exploit her sexually the way you did. She thought she was very special to you,” the girl’s grandmother said.

The girl’s father glared at Bernard and laid raw his feelings toward him:

“If I acted on how I feel, I wouldn’t be here today. I’d be the one going to jail. Did you even think of the damage you were doing? Did you even care? She was not meant to be used so you could fulfill your sick needs. My fear is that you just don’t get what you’ve done.”

Bernard pleaded guilty in October to criminal sexual conduct. He had sex with the girl from July 2006 to May 2007. The incidents occurred in his Montgomery home, and on one occasion at school.

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