GREAT FALLS — A former Great Falls Elementary School art teacher, once named teacher of the year, has been sentenced to three years in prison after pleading guilty to assault and battery in the first degree.
Richard Jayson Jones, 48, was arrested in July 2012 after a 16-year-old boy told officials that Jones had sexually assaulted him multiple times between 2007 and 2010, investigators said.
Jones was originally charged with criminal sexual conduct with a minor and committing a lewd act upon a child under 16.
None of the incidents occurred on school property, officials said at the time.
In court two weeks ago, Jones pleaded guilty to assault and battery, first degree, said Sue Carpenter, clerk of court in Chester County.
Part of Jones plea bargain involved pleading guilty to the lesser assault charge in exchange for registering as a sex offender, said Chester County public defender Mike Lifsey.
Jones was sentenced to three years in prison and probation, according to assistant 6th Circuit Solicitor Chris Taylor.
The victim, Taylor said, was present in the courtroom for sentencing and was aware of what the plea bargain meant for Jones.
At the hearing, Taylor said, several people spoke on Jones behalf because he was well-known in the community, and more than 50 letters of support for Jones were submitted to the judge.
Jones teaching certificate has been summarily suspended since his arrest in July, said Jim Turner, the coordinator of professional practices in the S.C. Department of Education.
This type of suspension is placed immediately on a certificate when the board feels there could be a danger to students until the person can attend a hearing.
Jones is being held at the Kirkland Correctional Institute in Columbia. Taylor said he will likely be moved to a different location in the next few weeks.
Rachel Southmayd • 803-329-4072