NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) - A former Nacogdoches substitute teacher has pleaded guilty to having improper relationships with three students over the past school year.
In exchange for the pleas, Jamar Kenta Ballard, 29, accepted three 15-year prison sentences, which will be served concurrently.
The state dropped one charge of improper relationship between an educator and a student and one charge of sexual assault.
Ballard was arrested in April after a student told a teacher she had sex with Ballard in a classroom in which he was a substitute teacher. After the arrest, two more students came forward and accused Ballard of having sex with them.
The state dropped the first charge because the victim was the same girl who he was charged with sexual assault of a child. The sexual assault charge was dropped because the state determined the sex may have been consensual.
Ballard pleaded guilty to two counts of improper relationship between an educator and a student and one count of sexual assault of a child.
District Judge Campbell Cox approved the plea bargain.
"Had he gone to trial all the sentences could have been stacked," said Ballard's attorney, Ryan Deaton. "He could have been looking at instead of a punishment of two to 20, he could have been looking at possibly 60 and so we didn't want that to happen."
The state agreed to the plea terms as the sentence was so close to the 20-year maximum. In addition, three victims avoided a trial.
Ballard's relatives chose not to answer questions. Deaton, a family friend, says the Lufkin resident regrets his actions.
"Something you need to know about Mr. Ballard, that in his community where he's from he's very well liked," Deaton said. "People like him very much and he has a lot of people respect him and I think he did wrong and he admitted he did wrong and he's taken responsibility for his actions."
Deaton believes Ballard knew the attraction was wrong and that he should have controlled it.