Stark gets six months in jail for sex with studentFormer Red Wing High School teacher Durk Lee Stark, 43, was sentenced Friday to six months in jail for having a sexual relationship with a student.
By: Sarah Gorvin, The Republican Eagle
Former Red Wing High School teacher Durk Lee Stark, 43, was sentenced Friday to six months in jail for having a sexual relationship with a student. He will also serve 15 years’ probation, go through sexual offender treatment and must register as a sexual predator for the next 10 years.
In September, Stark pleaded guilty to third-degree criminal sexual conduct, admitting that he had a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old female student over about seven months during the 2009-10 school year.
“The … concern is obviously the relationship Mr. Stark had with the victim, that being a teacher and a student,” First District Judge Kevin Mark said before sentencing Stark. “When parents send their children to school … the one thing they can count on and should be able to count on is the safety of their children …
“This went on for a number of months,” Mark said. “Stark was aware of what he was doing.”
Stark was originally charged in April 2011 with fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct in addition to the third-degree criminal sexual conduct charge. As a result of a plea agreement that outlined the sentence, the fourth-degree charge was dropped.
In the courtroom Friday, Mark heard victim impact statements from the girl’s parents.
“She’s not the same happy-go-lucky person she was,” the victim’s mother told the courtroom Friday. “She can’t talk to me like she used to. This is the worst thing that has happened to her.”
The victim’s father asked Mark to sentence Stark to the maximum jail time.
“Anything less would be an … insult,” he said.
Prosecutor Goodhue County Attorney Erin Keuster asked for the “full jail sentence in this case … to stop the harm that has been done.”
Kuester outlined steps that Stark took to make sure that his actions with the female went undetected: He drove the girl to secluded wooded areas — some in Wisconsin — to have sex with her and lied to a co-worker when confronted about his relationship with the girl.
“This behavior shows planning … to make sure his actions were undetected,” Kuester said. “All this planning to satisfy his own selfish needs.”
Stark’s attorney Sarah MacGillis argued that Stark doesn’t need years in prison.
“The answer to that is not a lengthy sentence. The answer is to go through (sexual offender) treatment,” she said.
MacGillis continued that Stark has no past history of inappropriate behavior and emphasized the fact that, because of this incident, he will never be allowed in a classroom setting as a teacher again.
“He was caught, he was fired, he pleaded guilty, he is being prosecuted,” MacGillis said. “He gets the message.”
Before Mark sentenced him, Stark apologized to the victim and her family “for the pain (he) caused them,” he said.
In a stay of imposition outlined in the plea agreement, Stark’s felony third-degree sexual conduct charge will be reduced to a misdemeanor if he completes his jail and probation time and doesn’t violate any of the terms of his probation.
Because Stark currently lives in Alexandria, Minn., Mark gave him the option to serve his jail sentence in Douglas County. He will begin his sentence Jan. 9, 2012.
Stark was placed on mandatory leave from his position with the Red Wing School District in October 2010, after school administrators learned of the allegations. He voluntarily resigned in April 2011.