Former Fresno teacher accused of sex crimes refuses deal to save 230 years in prison

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- A former Fresno teacher accused of repeatedly sexually touching students refused a deal today that could've saved him 230 years in prison.

Chris Bispham's crimes started soon after he moved from Tennessee to Fresno in 2012, according to police officers who interviewed some of his former students at Fresno Adventist Academy.

"John Doe 1 described how Mr. Bispham would take him into a closet and he would take off his pants and underwear," said Fresno police officer Edward Robles, who took the first reports.

John Doe 1 described 30 to 40 fondling incidents when he was a middle schooler, under the age of 16. And he knew he wasn't alone.

"During their 8th grade year, how he and his friend, John Doe 2 would be wrestling in Mr. Bispham's class and that Mr. Bispham would occasionally stick his hand under their pants and try to touch their groin area," Officer Robles said.

John Doe 2 knew Bispham from Tennessee and his family socialized with the teacher outside of school. Police say he confirmed the wrestling incidents.

But the worst accusations came from an elementary school boy. He said he was 10 years old when Bispham took him into a closet three to four times a week for sexual contact, even forcing him to touch back.

"He said on one occasion, Mr. Bispham asked him to do it," said Sgt. Jennifer Federico of the Fresno Police Department. "He didn't want to, but he was grabbed by his wrists."

In all, Bispham faces 18 charges related to four boys. The fourth one came forward after Bispham's arrest in October 2017.

By then, school administrators say he'd quit the school and went to Florida, where police tracked him down.

His defense attorney argued there wasn't enough evidence for all 18 charges, especially when it came to what exactly happened with John Doe 1.

"Based on the evidence we have an uncertain belief by the second officer that maybe there was 15 times stated," Rick Horowitz said.

Prosecutors offered Bispham a plea deal Tuesday where he'd serve 30 years in prison. He refused.

A judge decided there's enough evidence for him to stand trial on all 18 counts.

If he's convicted on all of them, his punishment could be up to 266 years plus life in prison.
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