BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) - A former music and band teacher at Kenmore Middle School was sentenced Thursday for sending an indecent picture of himself to a 14-year-old female student, and his wife stormed out of the courtroom.
In court, 41-year-old William Kuhn cried as he was sentenced to six months in jail and five years of probation. He was also ordered to stay away from the student for the next nine years.
Judge Kenneth Case told him, "Teachers are superstars; they are the parents when we can't be with our parents. As parents we look up to them, you betrayed all of those trusts."
Kuhn pleaded guilty to sending an explicit picture of himself to the student earlier this year. The judge said Kuhn manipulated the victim, and called it "psychological molestation."
The victim delivered an impact statement in court Thursday, saying "Mr. Kuhn ruined me." The teen said since sixth grade, her life has been a mess, and that she wakes up every morning "wanting to go back to sleep forever." She is now in counseling to deal with suicidal feelings.
She explained what happened to the court, saying she loved music and looked up to Kuhn, as many students did. The victim explained she and Kuhn would text each other daily, as he would with other students, but initially no lines were crossed.
But eventually, the teen said Kuhn expressed feelings for her. The teacher made her feel good about herself and would only bring up sexual topics at night. She claimed at one point, Kuhn tried to get her to go to New York City with him, and lie to her parents about it.
At some point, the teen said the text messages became explicit, and she felt Kuhn had taken control. She said she sent him a topless photo, and that he sent her five or six pictures of his genitals. In court, the defense claimed it was only one or two photos.
"He made me feel like the only girl in the world. My heart was in his hands. I was under his spell," the teen told the courtroom. "He told me he loved me, but all he wanted was sex. He made me feel like I was in debt to him."
The teen said she was scared. While in a car together, she claimed Kuhn started to cry about how much she meant to him, and that Kuhn leaned in and kissed her. At that point, Kuhn's wife stormed out of the courtroom.
"He said he never wanted to hurt me. He started to cry about how much I meant to him," the teen recounted.
The victim continued, adding that she wasted two of her teen years. However, she said life is getting better thanks to her friends and family.
Kuhn apologized in court, saying, "I take full responsibility for my actions," and "I am remorseful and regret what I did, it's not my character." He also apologized to his family, the victim and the school district.
Kuhn's defense attorney, Michael Ingham, said, "This was a teacher-student relationship that he had developed, and it evolved over time and to a point where they had become comfortable with each other, to the point of fault that it was becoming inappropriate."
Ingham noted that Kuhn voluntarily surrendered his teaching certificate and resigned. He said his client is in counseling and plans to move to Florida in the hopes of starting a new life and career.
Kuhn will not have to register as a sex offender.
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