A former New Kent High School teacher entered guilty pleas to two counts of using communications devices to solicit sex from a student.
Matthew Spencer Duckworth, 41, entered the pleas in New Kent Circuit Court Monday morning.
As part of a plea agreement, three additional identical charges were nolle prossed or dropped by Commonwealth’s Attorney Linwood Gregory.
The trial was originally set for a grand jury, but was changed to a bench trial by the judge on March 18 out of respect for the victim, according to Gregory.
Judge B. Elliott Bondurant asked Gregory why the plea agreement was made. Gregory said the underage victim was traumatized by the experience and could testify, although preferred not to.
Gregory also said that the punishment and two charges would be sufficient for Duckworth.
In a summary of evidence, Gregory presented to Bondurant a two and a half page document of text messages from the victim detailing how she informed a New Kent detective of the situation.
Gregory also entered 52 pages of messages between the victim and Duckworth into evidence.
The messages included Duckworth instructing the victim on how to destroy videos, photos and messages he sent.
The victim messaged Duckworth that she wanted to drive herself to the nearest bridge; Duckworth asked where and if he could meet her there.
Gregory showed images and videos on a computer to Bondurant and Duckworth’s defense attorney Todd DuVal.
Gregory said that despite Duckworth’s instructions, the victim took an old iPod and recorded the videos and captured the photos Duckworth sent prior to deleting them from her phone.
While the victim deleted the items from her iPod, they were not removed entirely from the device. A data retrieval specialist from Middlesex was able to recover 23 videos, according to Gregory. Duckworth and the victim also had exchanges on Snapchat.
Bondurant looked at photos and videos of Duckworth on the computer.
DuVal requested that Duckworth remain free on bond until formal sentencing to continue therapy, adding that he has had no contact, or made any attempt to contact the victim.
Bondurant denied the bond request, remanding Duckworth to jail.
“This case is disgusting,” Bondurant said. “For a teacher to do this to a student.”
A pre-sentencing report is being prepared for Duckworth; sentencing guidelines recommend between one year and 10 months to five years and two months, but he could face up to 20 years in prison for each charge for a total of 40 years.
Formal sentencing is scheduled at 9 a.m. June 17 in New Kent County Circuit Court. Duckworth is being held at Henrico County Jail East.
Luck can be reached at 757-291-2038, firstname.lastname@example.org or @ashleyrluck on Twitter