By CRISTINA JANNEY
A former teacher and coach at Victoria Junior/Senior High School was sentenced Monday in Ellis County District Court to three years of probation for sexual battery of a 14-year-old student.
Jordan Ottley, 26, entered no-contest Alford pleas to charges of aggravated endangerment of a child, two counts of battery and one count of sexual battery.
“In an Alford plea, a person pleads to a crime the state cannot prove in order to avoid possible conviction for a more serious crime that the state might be able to prove,” said Ellis County Attorney Tom Drees said.
The incident allegedly occurred in January 2017, and Ottley was charged in October 2017.
The plea will mean Ottley will have to register as a sex offender for 15 years and likely no longer will be able to work as a teacher, because the offense on non-expungeable. Ottley no longer works for the Victoria school district.
Drees said the victim and her mother were aware of the plea agreement but did not wish to appear in court for the sentencing. The victim never reported the incident, Drees said, but it was the family seeking help for Ottley that led to treatment for bipolar disorder and, in doing so, it was brought to the authorities’ attention. Ottley has remained in counseling while the case was pending.
“Frankly, the student has received a great deal of verbal abuse at school because a popular teacher was charged in this matter,” Drees said.
Ottley said he wished to apologize to all parties involved. He said this incident did not reflect how he usually carries himself personally or professionally.
Prior to sentencing, Ottley’s attorney Sal Intagliata pointed out Ottley’s wife, other family members, friends and Ottley’s therapist were present in court to support Ottley.
Letters from supporters described Ottley as “highly respectful and a human being someone would want to emulate” and someone his “class and friends look up to” and an “all-around good guy.”
Intagliata said Ottley did not know he had bipolar disorder and had been given medication for anxiety. This led to him having a manic episode, during which the crime occurred. Intagliata called Ottley’s behavior as uncharacteristic.
Ottley’s wife, who he has a child with, said in a letter to the court, “This is not what Jordan wanted for our future, he deserves a chance to beat it,” referring to his bipolar disorder.
Ottley’s priest wrote Ottley was a hard worker and would be an asset to society. He said in his letter he was surprised by Ottley’s actions, which he said was inconsistent with his usual behavior.
If Ottley fails to meet his probation requirements, he will face up to two years in prison. If he successfully serves his first two years of probation, he will be eligible to serve his final year of probation unsupervised.
Ottley was ordered to pay court fees.