Ex-choir man Spivey pleads guilty
Former Charlottesville High choir director Jonathan Spivey pleaded guilty to one count of custodial indecent liberties and entered Alford pleas on three other counts today in Charlottesville Circuit Court. An Alford plea acknowledges that the prosecution has enough evidence to convict without the defendant admitting guilt.
Spivey's string of sexual propositions and deeds with students in his office or in the choir robes chamber at Charlottesville High School came to a halt September 18, when he asked a 17-year-old male about his sexual orientation. The discussion, which lasted through the first period and on into the second, according to Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney Elizabeth Killeen (right), turned into an indecent proposal. Spivey expressed interest in the youth's tongue ring and in having him perform fellatio on the music teacher.
The teen immediately reported that "a teacher was hitting on me," and looked "shaken," said Killeen. Spivey admitted the conversation and was placed on administrative leave. This encounter is one to which Spivey entered an Alford plea.
He pleaded guilty to a sexual relationship with a former student who now lives in North Carolina and who sat beside Commonwealth's Attorney Dave Chapman on the front row, dabbing his eyes with a handkerchief.
The police had investigated allegations about Spivey and the young man in 2001. Both then denied any sexual contact, said Killeen. Once the case was reopened, the former student admitted a sexual relationship, and estimated he had sex with Spivey 20 times, including incidents on a choir trip to Myrtle Beach and at the high school.
Spivey first had sexual discussions with the youth when he was 15, and had physical relations with the boy during his junior and senior years when he was 16 and 17.
The young man was "subjected to the most, and wanted to avoid trial," Killeen told Judge Daniel Bouton as a reason for the plea bargain.
Spivey had sexual contact with another 17-year-old eight or nine times when the boy was a junior. The student did not sign up for choir his senior year, says Killeen, and he reported the incident to a teacher's aide, who confirmed being told. It was not clear in the courtroom whether there was an investigation of that teen's allegations.
The fourth youth, a student at CHS from 2002 to 2006, reported conversations in which Spivey grilled the youth about specific sexual "what-ifs."
Spivey, who told Judge Daniel Bouton that he's taking antidepressants, will remain on bond until sentencing September 27. Bouton thanked those who had attended and recognized their anguish, whether they were Spivey's supporters or victims.
Spivey, who was also music director at Mt. Zion Baptist Church, initially was charged with seven counts of custodial indecent liberties, a Class 6 felony carrying up to five years in prison.
The charge includes propositioning, fondling, exposing oneself and having sex with a minor by someone in a custodial role, such as a teacher. Because none of the victims described their encounters as forcible, "It was not a situation we'd have rape charges," said Killeen.
"Trials are very difficult on sexual assault victims," Killeen added after the plea agreement had been accepted. "It would involve young people talking about their teacher."
"We have no agreement on sentencing," she said.