A former McLoud teacher charged with 31 felony counts involving juvenile pornography and sexual exploitation of her third grade students withdrew a no contest plea Friday and pleaded guilty to all counts.
Sobbing, Kimberly Ann Crain, 50, answered “guilty,” to each of the 31 counts and was sentenced to 45 years in prison.
Pottawatomie County District Judge John Canavan asked Crain if she understood that she’ll have to serve at least 37 years behind bars — until she’s 87 years old — before she’s eligible for parole, for which she replied “yes.”
Crain then stood in the witness box and read aloud a letter, addressing and apologizing to her parents, her sister, her husband, family members and her children, telling them she didn’t expect anything to happen intentionally and encouraged them to “live for Christ.”
She extended comments to her friends and church family and thanked them for standing by her. Struggling to speak through the tears, she also addressed her former students, their parents and the community.
“Words cannot express my intense remorse for my actions,” she said. “From the innermost part of me, please accept my heartfelt apologies.”
Crain, who said she was once a respected teacher, said she was living her lifelong dream of teaching until she struggled with conflicts in her life.
“These decisions destroyed years of respect,” she said, and “I ask for your forgiveness.”
Crain, who pleaded no contest in January, appeared for a sentencing hearing Friday on 18 counts of sexual exploitation of a child under 12, one count of conspiracy and one count of lewd molestation, along with 11 counts of possession of child pornography.
During the morning portion of testimony, the defense called nine character witnesses, including two pastors, two fellow church parishioners and members of the defendant's family, along with a psychologist.
One after the other, they testified that the incidents charged in this case are out of character for Crain, who was described as being a churchgoing wife and mother who strived to please others. Witnesses also described her as a “caring and loving person.”
Many witnesses testified Crain had changed, becoming withdrawn the past few years.
Dr. Terese Hall, a psychologist, talked about her evaluation of Crain, who she described as being “depressed” and having “extreme feelings of shame” because of what happened. Crain’s medical situation, including problems with menopause, depression, and other medical issues such as fibromyalgia, were taking a toll, Hall said.
As part of this case, prosecutors alleged Crain, while working as a third grade teacher at McLoud Elementary School, took photos of as many as 14 young girls while they were changing clothes, some in her classroom and others while at her home.
Page 2 of 4 - She then shared those images with Gary J. Doby, 66, a former Oklahoma Baptist University professor who lived in Pennsylvania and with whom she had an ongoing relationship.
The defendant’s husband, Rickey Dale Crain, testified Friday that he felt that Doby coerced his wife to do things that she normally wouldn’t have done.
“She’s responsible for what she did but I know he’s the one who instigated and coerced her,” he said.
Doby, who pleaded guilty in January to charges he faced in this case, was sentenced to 18 life sentences, plus concurrent 20-year and 10-year-sentences.
Doby was brought to the courthouse Friday afternoon, where he was expected to testify for the prosecution as part of the sentencing phase. That didn’t happen with Crain’s surprising change of plea.
Smothermon, who expected to put on testimony from the parents of seven or eight students affected through this ordeal, said he also planned to call Crain as his first witness.
With her first entering a no contest plea, Smothermon said case law would have allowed him to call her to the witness stand, which is one of the reasons he feels she changed her plea.
“She was getting ready to hear the brunt of the evidence against her. She was going to have to explain the chats, the nude photos, the overwhelming evidence and it was to be on display for the public to see,” Smothermon said.
When the sentencing commenced, Judge Canavan, looking out into the packed courtroom, asked if any of the victim’s families were in opposition to the plea and sentencing agreement, and if so, to let him know. None responded.
“I have met with the entire team — they’re all unanimous and stand behind this,” Smothermon said.
As parents of the children affected by the incidents in this case watched her every move, Crain, wearing jail oranges and shackles, approached the bench to hear the sentences as recited for each county. All sentences will run concurrently, meaning they’ll be served all at once.
For counts one through 18 of sexual exploitation of a child under 12, she received 45-year sentences in each count, plus a $500 fine and costs. For a count of conspiracy, the sentence was 20 years, plus costs, concurrently will all other costs.
In counts 20-30, for possession of juvenile pornography, she received 20 years for each count, all running concurrently, along with 20 years for a single lewd molestation count, plus fines and court costs.
The judge did give Crain credit for time served in jail since December 2011, but she still won’t be eligible for parole until about 2049.
Page 3 of 4 - Judge Canavan, speaking to Crain, asked if she understands the extent of damage she has caused to the children and families, with Crain responding, “yes, I do.”
Smothermon said the punishment for Crain was essentially a life sentence. Life with DOC is 45 years, he said, so “this is one in the same” and “effectively ends her life in prison.”
For many reasons, Crain’s defense attorney, Cregg Webb, requested Crain be housed somewhere besides the Mabel Bassett Correctional Center in McLoud. Judge Canavan agreed to make that recommendation to DOC.
Crain taught third grade at McLoud Elementary School until she resigned amid the ongoing investigation on Nov. 28, 2011, with prosecutors alleging the inappropriate behavior began in 2010 and occurring during most of 2011.
The parents of the students involved in these criminal allegations also have filed a lawsuit against Crain and the McLoud school district.
Attorney Joe Vorndran, who is representing those families, said they were all relieved following Friday’s sentencing, with each of them experiencing “a wide range of emotions,” hoping this prompts some healing.
“Today goes a long way toward getting that closure,” Vorndran said. “All along the focus has been on the kids and how to get them through this,” Vorndran added.
Smothermon contended that the children’s exposure to Crain’s activities in the classroom, such as posing for pictures and talking to Doby, also known as “Uncle G” on the Internet, continues to have far-reaching consequences.
Smothermon said the children, while in Crain’s third grade class, didn’t learn anything because of her actions, so many of the once A and B students are now failing fourth grade this year.
At a preliminary hearing in May, nine of Crain's former students — ages 9 to 11 — testified Crain took photos of them in her classroom and during a pizza party at her home, where they were wearing tank tops and panties.
Smothermon said Crain shared those and many sexually explicit photos of the students with Doby, as well as sexually explicit photos she took of herself. Crain and Doby met at OBU many years ago, where she was a student and he was a professor.
Smothermon said this case shook up an entire town, with many children now in counseling and some transferring to other schools because of these events.
“The actions that these two individuals took are going to have ripple effects for the remainder of these children’s lives. I hope when they sit and swing their feet on their cot in prison that they understand that they have destroyed the trust of 12 to 15 children — and that’s not counting the ones we could not identify,” Smothermon said.
Page 4 of 4 - Both Crain and Doby are being held in the Pottawatomie County Public Safety Center until they are transferred into the custody of the Department of Corrections.
Crain will be eligible for a judicial review of her sentence in one year and could ask Judge Canavan to consider lowering her sentence.
Crain’s attorney said they’re hopeful the judge will modify her sentence at that time.