Burlington, Vermont - May 19, 2008
"I felt like I lost trust with people. Felt I brought it upon myself, but I knew I didn't," said Jeffrey Buehner's now-13-year-old victim.
Buehner, 68, had a hard time looking at the boy as the teen talked about his two years of abuse, starting when he was just 8 years old.
"I became very shy. I was always wanting to be alone. And didn't want to be with other friends my age," said the boy.
Buehner admits he forced the boy to french kiss him during tutoring lessons when he was supposed to be teaching math and science.
"He learned how to be afraid," Prosecutor Susan Hardin said.
Buehner was a highly respected and trusted teacher for 30 years in Burlington, so respected in fact, he won teacher of the year in 1976. He then became a tutor during retirement.
But prosecutors painted a different picture; a predator who used his status to groom and molest young boys.
Buehner apologized to the victim, the boy's family, and to the community.
"I cannot imagine the pain that he and they are going through," Buehner said. "I admit my guilt. And I'm struggling with my very own suffering everyday. I am ashamed and very, very sorry."
Clinical psychologist Tom Powell testified that Buehner could likely be rehabilitated through a community release program.
"I think the likelihood he'd reoffend is quite low and is a very good candidate for treatment rather than a lengthy period of detention and certainly see no public safety concern with this man," said Powell.
But the victim's mother pleaded with the court to punish Buehner with jail time.
"I'm angry. I'm angry," she said.
She wants Buehner to feel the fear her son felt for two years.
"The impact on this victim has been severe," agreed Vt. District Court Judge Linda Levitt.
Judge Levitt called Buehner a predator who also abused the publics' trust. She ordered him to immediately begin serving a two-to-twelve year sentence; a relief for the victim's parents.
"It can't just be I'm sorry. It has to be punished," said his mother.
"We tried very hard not to let it take over our lives," said his father. "Now the judgement is in we can get on with our lives."
The boy is in counseling and his parents say he's on the road to recovery.
Buehner did not have a prior criminal record, but at least three other alleged victims say they too were abused by the former teacher as young boys.
The judge called this a "parents worst nightmare" and says she hopes her sentence will send a message to other people entrusted with young kids.http://www.wcax.com/Global/story.asp?S=8344609&nav=4QcW