Band Teacher Sentenced to 15 Years

Band Teacher Sentenced to 15 Years

Former Langston Hughes Middle School band teacher sentenced for videotaping boys in county recreation centers.

<bt>Richard Crane left permanent scars on Vienna, Oakton, Reston, McLean, Springfield and other communities, said Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Michael Ben’Ary.

"We ask Your Honor to send a clear message that these types of actions will not be tolerated in Fairfax County," Ben’Ary said.

Defense attorney Steven David Stone called his client a "first time offender," who is treatable and repentant. He asked Judge Randy I. Bellows to allow Crane the opportunity to atone for his sins.

"My client Richard Crane is ill, suffering from a sexual disorder," Stone said. "He violated the law, he repents seriously."

Crane, 44, said he is "beginning to realize" the pain his victims and their families have suffered. "I pray every day for people affected by my actions," he said. "I hope they will be able to fully heal."

But after examining evidence against Crane, Judge Bellows called the former Fairfax County Public Schools band teacher a sexual predator who poses a continued threat to children.

"This was long-term, organized, manipulative, complicated and predatory conduct," Bellows told the defendant before sentencing him Friday, Oct. 21 in Fairfax County Circuit Court. Bellows told Crane he’s not willing to risk the safety of children in the hope that Crane won’t commit such crimes again.

Bellows sentenced Crane, formerly of Burke, to 15 years in prison and a $10,000 fine for two counts of aggravated sexual battery and additional counts of manufacturing and possessing child pornography.

<b>HIDING A VIDEO CAMERA</b> in a gym bag, Crane videotaped boys changing clothes or showering in locker rooms of the Oak Marr (Oakton), Spring Hill (McLean), Providence (Falls Church) and South Run (Springfield) recreation centers.

During Crane’s sentencing hearing Friday, Fairfax Police Detective Brian Colligan testified that an "overwhelming amount of evidence" existed against Crane, including about 20 DVD disks of scenes containing "hours of footage" from the locker rooms. During the investigation against Crane, police attempted to identify at least 10 of the boys videotaped, he said.

Aggravated sexual battery of at least two of the boys occurred when Crane, a 16-year band teacher with Fairfax County Public Schools, rubbed against the naked boys with his genitalia.

Crane was arrested in September 2004. He entered an Alford plea in May 2005 on the six counts against him. A defendant who enters an Alford plea admits that the prosecution has enough evidence to convict, without admitting guilt. The court may then impose a sentence as if the defendant had been convicted of the crime.

During a search of his Burke home, police discovered approximately 1,000 computer images of child pornography.

<b>CRANE COOPERATED</b> with police and sought help following his arrest, Stone said.

In addition to seeking therapy before his bond was revoked in May, Crane received shots to produce chemical castration and received weekly testosterone receptor blockers at the National Institute for the Study, Prevention and Treatment of Sexual Trauma in Baltimore.

"At the time of my arrest in September 2004, I had a serious sexual illness and needed help," said Crane, who sold his Burke townhouse and moved out of Fairfax County to his parents’ home in Winchester. He has been in the Fairfax County Detention Center since May.

Crane, who excelled at music from a young age, taught band at Langston Hughes Middle School since 2001, and previously at band programs at county elementary schools including Woodburn, Graham Road, Camelot, Timber Lane and Pine Spring during his 16-year career with Fairfax County Public Schools.

After his arrest and incarceration, Crane resigned from his teaching post at Hughes and surrendered his teaching license to the Fairfax County School Board, Stone said.

Two clinicians testified on Crane’s behalf. Dr. Fred S. Berlin, of the National Institute for the Study, Prevention and Treatment of Sexual Trauma, and Dr. Edwin N. Carter, a clinical psychologist, testified that Crane doesn’t pose a high statistical risk of repeating the crimes again, but needs to be treated and monitored.

<b>BUT BELLOWS CITED</b> index cards Crane kept about some of the boys he taped, including information on where they lived or what instrument they played.

"You followed children with a hidden camera, you touched children, far more than one individual, you catalogued them in a DVD," Bellows said.

"But particularly more troubling ... you engaged in conduct that could clearly be described as stalking," the judge said.

Bellows described a few of Crane’s index cards, including times he wrote about following children and their families driving from the recreation center to a local McDonalds, or another notation describing a boy entering his house carrying his musical instrument.

"I’m also struck by the extended and repetitive nature of this conduct. The fact that it went on for several years, involved numerous children in numerous rec centers is significant," Bellows said.

<b>MOMENTS BEFORE,</b>Crane offered his apology before Bellows. "I have given this a lot of thought, I am speaking from my heart and soul. I am guilty, I accept full responsibility for the charges against me," said Crane, who was supported by more than 12 family members and friends who came to the hearing that lasted more than three hours.

"I feel very shameful for my actions, and what I have done is wrong," he said.

Sentencing guidelines prepared by Crane’s probation officer recommended a minimum of three years and three months in prison and a maximum term of 10 years and two months.

"I don’t feel guidelines capture the predatory nature of your conduct," said Bellows, as he sentenced Crane to 15 years, plus more than approximately 65 years of suspended and consecutive sentences.

"Every person in the community’s sense of safety was diminished by your conduct," Bellows said.