A former McLoud elementary school teacher entered a no contest plea Wednesday to 31 counts in a child exploitation case involving her students while a retired professor also charged in the case pleaded guilty to 20 counts and was sentenced to life in prison.
Kimberly Ann Crain, 49, Shawnee, and Gary J. Doby, 66, Bloomsburg, Pa., were both set for jury trials next week, but instead chose to enter pleas Wednesday in Pottawatomie County District Court.
Both defendants faced 18 counts of sexual exploitation of a child under age 12, one count of conspiracy to commit sexual exploitation and one count of lewd molestation. Crain also faced 11 counts of possession of juvenile pornography.
Doby, who pleaded guilty, was sentenced by District Judge John Canavan and received 18 life sentences in the exploitation counts, 10 years on the conspiracy charge and 20 years on the lewd molestation count. The sentences run concurrently.
A life sentence is considered to be 45 years by the Department of Corrections and Doby must serve 85 percent of that term, which is about 39 years. District Attorney Richard Smothermon said Doby will spend be the rest of his life in prison.
"He'll have to live to the ripe old age of 104 in order to be eligible for parole," Smothermon said, adding the only justice in this case is that both never get out of prison.
Defense Attorney Robert Butler, who represented Doby, said his client chose to enter the guilty plea.
"He is very apologetic to the victims," Butler said. "He didn't want to put his family through the rigors of a trial."
Smothermon, who said Doby stood up and took accountability in the case, said Crain chose a different path by pleading no contest. Crain entered a blind plea before the judge, Smothermon said, which means the state has no recommendation for sentencing, which will be up to the judge. Crain could face numerous life sentences, but even with just one count, faces a minimum sentence of 25 years.
She is scheduled for a pre-sentence and formal sentencing on March 22.
Smothermon said Wednesday's pleas ensure the young students in this case won't have to testify at two separate trials and he's very thankful for that.
Crain taught third grade at McLoud Elementary School until she resigned amid an ongoing investigation on Nov. 28, 2011. Prosecutors alleged Crain, while working as a teacher, took photos of as many as 14 young girls while they were changing clothes, some in her classroom and others while at her home. She then shared those images with Doby, a former Oklahoma Baptist University professor who lived in Pennsylvania.
The students, who called Doby "Uncle G," also would video chat with him on Skype while at school.
The students, at preliminary hearing, testified about chatting on the Internet with Doby and doing dances for him, with Doby also telling some of the girls they were "pretty."
Page 2 of 2 - Some of the girls testified about changing clothes behind a trash-bag or blanket-type tent that was set up in Crain's classroom so they could get their toenails painted by Crain behind her desk.
Smothermon, who said the investigation by law enforcement into this case was "outstanding," praised the courage of the young children and their testimony during preliminary hearing last May.
Smothermon said it was apparent those students were willing to testify again at trial this month but that was avoided through the investigative efforts in this case.
"The evidence was overwhelming — it would have been a huge risk to place themselves in the hands of a Pottawatomie County jury," Smothermon said.
A message seeking comment from Cregg Webb, the defense attorney for Crain, was not returned Wednesday.