Hartley teacher sentenced by jury
By Robin Scott
On Tuesday evening, November 17th, a Hartley County jury sentenced Ronald Alvin Thompson, age 56, on two felony counts. Thompson was arrested on July 6th after an investigation into allegations of inappropriate conduct with two students from the Hartley School District.
Sgt. Phillip Ditto with the Texas Rangers, Company C out of Dumas led the investigation that originally resulted in one count of indecency with a child under the age of 17. On August 26th, the Hartley County Grand Jury returned true bills on five different felony charges. The indictments stemmed from allegations by two young girls, ages 13 and 17, that Thompson had caused them to engage in inappropriate sexual contact with him.
On November 4th, a plea agreement was reached. The agreement included Thompson admitting to indecency with a child and having an inappropriate relationship between a teacher and student. The somewhat complicated agreement also included that Thompson would waive his right to an appeal in exchange for three of the felony counts against him being dropped. According to David Green, Hartley County District Attorney, “Basically he has agreed to give up about 90 percent of his ability to appeal in return for dropping three of the counts against him.” Thompson pled guilty to one count of indecency with a child and one count of inappropriate relationship between educator and student on November 4th.
On Tuesday, Thompson again pled guilty before a jury at the Hartley County Courthouse in Channing. The jury then watched the Bridge interview video of the 13-year-old victim talking about what had happened to her and listened to the audio interview of the 17-year-old victim. Also admitted into evidence for the purpose of sentencing were Thompson’s confession to Texas Rangers and the original offense report. The plea agreement also meant that the young girls did not have to testify or appear in court.
The jury that heard evidence during the punishment phase of Thompson’s case was selected on Monday. Ditto noted, “Texas is the only state in the Union to have a judge or a jury set punishment. All other states have juries that determine guilt or innocence, but then a judge decides the punishment.” The jury was given an instruction to find Thompson guilty on the two counts he pled guilty to, and then they were able to determine his punishment.
The jury sentenced Thompson to eight years for each count. The two sentences shall run concurrently, which means that they were not stacked or giving him a total of 16 years. Thompson’s convictions to the two second degree felonies also ensure that he will never teach again.
Before November 4th, Thompson was out on $150,000 bail. After sentencing Tuesday, Hartley County Sheriff Franky Scott returned Thompson to jail. A website dedicated to notifying the public about teachers charged with sex crimes included a posting about Thompson. For more information about other sex offending educators or Thompson visit http://badbadteachers.com.