Spivey gets 21 months for sexual abuse
As an indication of how established and well-regarded former Charlottesville High School choir director Jonathan Spivey was in the community, the chairman of the city School Board, Alvin Edwards, showed up to support him at his sentencing hearing today for four counts of custodial indecent liberties – even though the sexual incidents happened to Spivey's students at school.
And usually when police testify in court, it's on behalf of the prosecution. Not so today for Charlottesville Police Sergeant Tito Durrette, who calls Spivey "my dad" because choir director took him in at age 14 or 15. Durrette credits Spivey with giving him the structure he needed to turn his life around.
But the courtroom full of family and friends and witnesses testifying on Spivey's behalf was not enough to sway Judge Daniel Bouton, who handed the musician a 20-year sentence– with all but one year and nine months suspended.
Originally charged with seven counts, Spivey had already pleaded guilty to four to spare the victims from having to testify, his lawyer, David Franzen, told the court.
In determining the sentence, Bouton noted that Spivey's transgressions were "multiple crimes with multiple victims," not a single random or isolated act. "You are a grown man," said Bouton. "You used a position of trust and authority to take advantage."
The judge also cited the fact that the offenses took place in a school setting. The breach of the safe educational environment was a "violation of the peace and safety of the community," Bouton said.
Spivey, who had been free on bond, was taken into custody. Before he was sentenced, he addressed the court and apologized for his conduct. "I am truly ashamed of what I've done," he said, as tissues dabbed eyes and noses sniffled throughout the courtroom.
Psychologist David Waters testified that Spivey is neither a sexual predator nor a pedophile, and that he was seduced by an older teen cousin when he was around 11. Waters said it had been very hard for Spivey to accept his bisexuality and the impulses that were not socially acceptable, and that in some ways he'd lived a double life.
The investigation into Spivey's choir room predilections began September 18, 2006, when one of his students reported that the choir director had come onto him. An earlier affair with a different student in 2001 had been reported to school officials, but both Spivey and the student denied anything was going on, although the student later estimated they'd had sexual relations 20 times.
Franzen pointed out that Spivey's victims were not "babes in the woods," alleging, "This man did not ruin lives." Judge Bouton didn't seem to agree; he asked how 15-year-old boys could not be considered babes in the woods at some point.
Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney Elizabeth Killen said she was pleased with the sentence, calling the charges very serious acts that occurred on school grounds. And with seven victims over four years, "It was very serial in nature," she said. "Any teacher knows that is not tolerated."