Former Teacher Gets Suspended Sentence

Former Teacher Gets Suspended Sentence

Coach had relationship with member of Oakton softball team.

A Fair Oaks man who taught at an elementary school and coached at Oakton High received a suspended jail sentence Friday, after pleading "no contest" to a charge of sexual battery. He is Matthew Bianco, 28, of the 12100 block of Elm Forest Way in the Fair Oaks area.

His indiscretions first came to public light on March 30, when Fairfax County police arrested Bianco and charged him with custodial indecent liberties with a minor. Police said detectives received information that he had formed a several-months-long relationship that involved inappropriate touching of a teenage student.

Bianco taught PE for three years at Stenwood Elementary in Dunn Loring and was employed by the school system for a total of three years. He also served as assistant boys varsity basketball coach at Oakton High and, previously, was the junior varsity head coach and an assistant softball coach at Oakton.

However, Bianco no longer has a job at either school. As soon as school-system officials learned that he was under investigation, he was placed on leave without pay. Last Friday, July 23, he appeared in Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court to enter his plea.

AT THAT TIME, Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney Ian Rodway amended the charge against him to "misdemeanor sexual battery against a female under the age of 18." He said the incidents occurred between June 30 and Dec. 30, 2003.

Rodway told substitute judge Beth Bittel that another assistant commonwealth's attorney had worked out a plea agreement earlier with Bianco's attorney, Steven David Stone, that would enable his client to receive a 12-month, suspended sentence, coupled with a year's active probation.

"I have no problems with it," said Rodway. However, he added, the agreement also contained specific recommendations that he wanted to make sure were carried out. "This defendant should complete a sex-offender evaluation," said Rodway. "And he should not be allowed to be in a position where he's around minors for 12 months, unless a competent adult is present — because the victim played on Oakton High School's softball team while he was an assistant coach."

Furthermore, said the prosecutor, the agreement should also stipulate that Bianco "have no contact with [the victim]." The Connection is not identifying the girl, since she is a minor and a victim. Stone noted that there's also a recommendation in the plea agreement that Bianco "continue psychotherapy."

The judge then accepted Rodway's recommendations and added the further conditions that Bianco "not be permitted to coach" and should continue the vocational counseling outlined in his doctor's report. Stone said his client was "in full agreement" with all the recommendations.

"He's recognized the wrongfulness of his actions," said Stone. "And he's determined to pursue a corrective path and find out why this poor judgment and poor decision-making came about." He noted, as well, that Bianco has resigned his teaching and coaching positions.

"He had a provisional teaching license [at the time of the incidents], and he was about to receive his final teaching license," said Stone. "But he's not going to apply for it now, and he will never again work with minors."

And since the Department of Social Services is also involved with this case, said Stone, "[Bianco's] record will keep him out of teaching for the rest of his life. He wants to continue with his psychotherapy, and he will not be seeking another teaching or coaching position."

AFTER PRONOUNCING the agreed-upon sentence and conditions, Bittel then addressed Bianco directly. "You have a one-year jail sentence hanging over your head," she told him. "If you fail to maintain general good behavior or comply with all the conditions, you'll go to jail for 12 months. Do you understand?"

"Yes, ma'am," said Bianco.

Bittel then reminded him that he is not permitted to teach anyone other than adults.

"I'm sure this was a horrible event for this family," the judge said. "As a former athlete, myself, I'm very disturbed by what I've read here [in the doctor's report.] I hope you'll take full advantage of the counseling available to you — and always remember the harm that you've caused this young woman."