VISALIA, Calif. (KFSN) --A former South Valley music teacher and church leader was sentenced to 10 years in state prison Monday for molesting children.
In March, 30-year-old Gabriel Ziessler of Visalia plead no contest to ten counts of child molestation involving three victims. Before he was sentenced, Ziessler addressed the court expressing regret and remorse at his actions.
"I grieve over my misdeeds, whether consciously carried out or otherwise," Ziessler said. "And I am mournful as I realize the negative impact it has had on those involved."
"I have no idea what you are referring to when you say otherwise," said Tulare County Superior Court Judge Brett Alldredge. "This was a series of conscious choices made by you not once, not twice, (but) over and over again."
Ziessler will serve 10 years in state prison and have to register as a sex offender.
Prosecutors say the crimes happened between the fall of 2014 and the spring of 2015. Last March, he was arrested at Grace Note Music Studio in Visalia, where he taught lessons.
Pastor Dave Miller says Ziessler was a gifted musician at Rocky Hill Community Church in Exeter. Miller hopes what Ziessler said in court was true.
"A music teacher should be trusted," Miller said. "Someone in the spiritual realm, it should be even a safer environment."
Miller says his church must move on. And while they are compassionate, he says they have high standards and care more about children than child molesters.
"And if you can't be protected from people who are in leadership in the church, where do we go?"
The mother of one victim said their family trusted Ziessler, but he committed a horrendous crime.
As part of a statement provided to Action News, she went on to say this:
"The loss of our daughter's innocence is beyond words, even though we are receiving counseling and have the support of family, friends, and church, our family is forever broken. Finding trust, even with people whom we should be able to turn to, is difficult."