Former teacher agrees to deal
By Greg Bird
After three years of plea deals, trials and mistrials the case against former McCreary Central High School teacher and coach Toby Curry is now one step closer to conclusion after a hearing in Circuit Court Monday.
Curry agreed to a plea deal offered by the Commonwealth, which will not require him to serve any jail time nor force him to register as a sexual offender.
According to the terms of the agreement Curry entered a guilty plea on a charge of Unlawful Transaction with a Minor second degree, a Class D Felony, and will be sentenced to a one-year term. Since Curry has already served more than that amount of time either in jail or on home incarceration in leading up the agreement, he will get credit for that time served and not face any time in prison.
Curry also agreed to permanently forfeit his Kentucky teaching certificate, meaning he will no longer be able to work as a teacher in the state. With a felony conviction and a Kentucky forfeiture of license, it is unlikely that Curry would be able to apply for a teaching license in another state.
Appearing before Circuit Court Judge Dan Ballou, Curry stated he fully understood the terms offered in the plea agreement and affirmed he was guilty of the amended charge against him.
A final sentencing date of April 9 has been scheduled in Whitley County for the case.
The plea deal comes less than two years after Curry was originally convicted on a charge of Unlawful Use of Electronic Means Originating or Received within the Commonwealth to Induce a Minor to Engage in Sexual or other Prohibited Activities, which is also a Class D Felony, but also would have required his name entered in the Sexual Offender Registry.
That conviction was vacated and a new trial ordered after it was discovered that two jurors on the panel that convicted the former coach had failed to disclose they knew the defendant at the time of jury selection.
Curry, a former girls basketball and softball coach at the high school, was indicted by the McCreary County Grand Jury in February 2015 after it was alleged that he engaged in a series of text messages with a then 15-year-old former student athlete at McCreary Central. The messages came at a time after Curry left employment with the District and he was not an employee of the school District at the time.
In early 2016 Curry agreed to a conditional plea agreement, which would have carried a three-year sentence and compelled him to register as a sex offender for 20-years.
Curry later rescinded the plea, stating at the time he was not made fully aware of the implications of the terms and asked for his case to be heard by jury.
A two-day trial was held in July, where it was revealed that Curry had exchanged numerous text messages with the girl. The prosecution depicted the exchanges as a plan to engage the girl in sexual encounter, while the defense labeled them as just a “flirtatious communication between two people.” Curry’s attorney suggested his client had no intention of pursuing a relationship, and had broken off communication when he realized the discussion had gone too far.
Curry did not take the stand during the trial, but as part of the prosecution’s case they played an audio recording of Curry’s interview with State Police Detective Billy Correll from the early stages of the investigation.
The tapes revealed that Curry admitted to texting the young woman, and he realized it didn’t look good, but maintained that there was never any intention to pursue any form of physical relationship.
The jury heard a reading of the more than 43 pages of text messages between the pair as part of the prosecution’s case. The messages included discussions of the girl coming to live at Curry’s residence while she attended college and could work as a “naughty nanny.”
After deliberations of about two hours the Jury returned with a guilty verdict, recommending a one-year sentence and entering his name on the national registry.
Curry’s attorney soon after filed a motion calling for the verdict to be dismissed due to the potentially tainted jury impeding his right to a fair trial.
At a hearing in Whitley County the jurors in question admitted to the Judge they had either been former students in Curry’s class, or had heard “rumors” of Curry’s actions and failed to disclose that information during the selection process.
Upon the revelations Judge Ballou upheld the defendant’s motion for a new trial.