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Former teacher sentenced to 90 years

Former New Middletown Elementary School teacher Corey Faith, 41, of Corydon, was sentenced Thursday afternoon to 90 years in the Indiana Dept. of Corrections.
Faith was sentenced by Harrison Superior Court Judge Joseph (Joe) Claypool after pleading guilty to three of 36 counts of child molestation stemming from a relationship in 2005 to 2007 with a former sixth-grade student who is now 26 and resides in Florida.
Claypool suspended 20 years to probation, so Faith will serve 70 years, with day-for-day credit and credit for 91 days already served, making his minimum imprisonment 34 years and 274 days.
‘This case has been terribly emotional,’ Harrison County Prosecutor J. Otto Schalk said. ‘It was a textbook case of how grooming and manipulating a child over many years can have lasting ‘ long lasting ‘ and drastic effects on their life. Emotionally, physically. And certainly this case was no exception.’
The victim took the stand Thursday morning during the sentencing hearing to detail her life at the time as a child and her relationship with Faith.
She cried throughout the testimony and had to take a break at one point.
She said her mother was going through a difficult time with mental illness and was in and out of rehabilitation while her father was working hard to keep the family together.
‘They couldn’t take care of me,’ she said.
She said Faith and his family began taking care of her and her brother, describing Faith as her best friend.
‘We fell in love,’ she said.
The relationship eventually became sexual with multiple instances during a two-year span.
Kerri Gifford, the person who called police last spring about Faith’s relationship with the victim, also testified.
Gifford met the victim when she hired her at an accounting firm in the Florida town of Riverview. She formed quite a bond with her beginning five years ago, building a friendship that has now turned into a family-like, mother-daughter relationship, according to Gifford.
It was four years into the friendship that she told Gifford of her ‘deepest, darkest’ secret about Faith.
Gifford said Faith made the choice to take advantage of a defenseless child and groomed her to be ‘his sex toy.’
‘He broke her in every way possible,’ she said.
The victim said she went into depression after her mother died in 2016 and thought it could be her fault if Faith did what he did to her to someone else.
So, she confided in Gifford.
Prosecutors also read a letter from the victim’s father, who said he had a weird, uneasy feeling about Faith at the time of the relationship. He said everyone seemed to hate him for his suspicions and that Faith ‘had everyone fooled.’ He said his respect and trust in people is lost. He said it was ‘unforgivable’ and he hoped Faith spent the rest of his life in prison.
The defense called numerous family and community members to speak to Faith’s character, some of whom apologized directly to the victim.
All of them said Faith was a hard-working man who was always there to help anyone and, by all accounts, was a good teacher.
Finally, Faith read a statement in which he apologized to the victim.
‘You’re not at fault; that solely rests with me,’ he said. ‘I’ve seen the hurt and destruction my actions have caused.’
He said he would help others not make the same mistakes he did.
The prosecutor recommended 40 years on each of the three counts to be served consecutively for a total of 120 years.
Schalk said it was not a recommendation he took lightly.
‘We can’t give leniency based on a good family name,’ he said. ‘These were the actions of the defendant and the defendant alone.’
Faith’s attorney, Bart Betteau, said Faith’s lack of a criminal history should be taken into account. He also mentioned how multiple people speaking on Faith’s behalf said if he murdered the victim, he’d be looking at 40 to 65 years in prison, almost half of what the prosecutor was asking for calling it ‘so much in excess.’
‘This is a worthwhile human being,’ he said pointing to Faith. ‘Give this person some worth … that he be released and productive.’
Claypool said it was a very difficult case and the aggravating factors outweighed the mitigating factors.
He sentenced Faith to 30 years on each count, for a total of 90, with 20 years suspended.
With one-for-one day credit in Indiana, he would serve 35 years with credit for the 91 days he’s already served.
‘It will not be your entire life,’ Claypool said, noting the terms of release will be decided later, since it’s too far out.
Faith indicated his intent to appeal the sentencing.
If need be, Claypool said Faith would be appointed counsel for the appeal.
‘I think to say you’re pleased with the fact that a man, for all general purposes, will die in prison might be the wrong word,’ Schalk said. ‘I think this was a long and trying day. There was a lot of emotional and impassioned testimony from both sides … the state’s recommendation was of one taking in all the circumstances, all the facts. At the end of the day, my job as the administer of justice is to seek a fair and impartial sentence and taking into consideration every vulnerable child that attends a Harrison County school.
‘Anyone that sat in that courtroom could feel the raw emotion coming from the victim, that anger,’ he said. ‘It was a trying and emotional day in court. I have no doubt it was very emotional for the defendant and his family. We recognize that. But, at the end of the day, justice must always move forward and that includes putting those that hurt our most vulnerable people in prison.
‘We don’t sentence people for the sole purpose of sending a message,’ Schalk added. ‘But, if one were abusing children in Harrison County and they poked their head in that courtroom during sentencing, they would realize Harrison County is not the place to abuse children, especially in the classroom.’