A former Widefield High School teacher who struck male students' genitals as "cup checks" was sentenced to at least eight years in prison on Monday.
Lee Edward Riddle, 30, received an indeterminate sentence from Judge Thomas Kennedy, meaning Riddle could remain in prison for his entire life.
Riddle faced 18 charges of sex assault on a child in a position of trust and was convicted of five of them by a jury on Aug. 20.
He taught German at the school.
The mothers of two of Riddle's victims testified about the damage their sons have endured.
One mother said she knows the community has seen more horrific crimes, but the court should make an example out of Riddle to deter future offenders. She struggles with not having protected her child and instead telling him to respect his teachers, she said.
Another mother said she will never again look at schools the same way. She has lost her trust.
Riddle lacks understanding of the seriousness of his crimes, the judge said. Although the children were not physically injured, he said the emotional damage he caused them at a time when they're exploring their own sexuality is likely severe.
If Riddle had demonstrated the same behavior with female students, there would have been no doubt about his intent, Kennedy said.
Riddle's behavior was "more than just horseplay," he added. "You crossed those boundaries repeatedly."
Riddle's mother and two of his friends spoke in court Monday about a sweet, harmless man who has done nothing but good for the community.
They asked for the minimum mandatory sentence, which Riddle received.
Riddle had wanted to be a teacher since the age of 7, his mother, Kathy, testified.
"I hope to God you won't put him in prison," she said before Kennedy's ruling. "It will kill his spirit. He is the sweetest person I know. He doesn't do anything but think of others."
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