LOS BANOS, Calif. (KFSN) --Harsh words and a tough sentence were handed down Friday for a former high school teacher in Los Banos. A judge sent Gary Bettencourt to prison for having sex with three students.
Bettencourt left the courtroom in handcuffs 13 years after his first sexual contact with a student. Now 41, the former Los Banos and Pacheco High School teacher admitted to having sex with three underage students over the course of more than a decade.
"I know it was my responsibility to be an adult and not let things escalate and in that sense," Bettencourt told the court. "I failed."
We're not identifying Bettencourt's victims, but they each stood up to tell their stories. The most recent victim shook as she raised her voice, telling the court and her former teacher she was just a kid when he took her innocence and sent her into an emotional downward spiral.
The other two victims said they didn't even realize they were victims until they found out they weren't special to Bettencourt, that he had done the same things with other girls.
"One thing we did see in there from the statements of all the confidential victims is that their emotions run the gamut," Prosecutor Travis Colby explained. "I believe that's clear evidence that he's a con man to steal what's most precious, and that's people's innocence."
Colby said Bettencourt left a trail of destruction through the community, especially in the hearts and minds of his victims. But Bettencourt's attorney says the remorse is real and the desire to do good is too.
"The person in me that wanted to help people, that person still exists," Bettencourt said. "Obviously, I can't do it the way I was doing it."
Bettencourt got the maximum punishment of 100 months in prison and he'll have to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life.
His girlfriend is due back in court next month on related charges and another teacher, Dusty Norris, who became a Los Banos police officer, is also charged in a connected case.