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September 6, 2012

Ex-teacher gets 15 years

Former educator sentenced for rape, sodomy, neglect and providing alcohol

— EUFAULA — Calling the case “monstrously tragic,” a McIntosh County judge sentenced former Checotah teacher Michelle McCutchan to 15 years in prison for having a sexual relationship with students.

McCutchan, who was found guilty Aug. 1 on nine charges relating to the sexual encounters, testified Wednesday to years of sexual abuse as a child. Abuse, she said, that led her to a sexual relationship as a teenager that turned to an abusive relationship as an adult.

But Associate District Judge James Pratt told McCutchan those years of abuse — no matter how sad — were not an excuse to “create more victims.”

McCutchan, 40, was sentenced to:

• Fifteen years each on two counts of second-degree rape;

• Ten years each on two counts of sodomy;

• Fifteen years for child neglect; and

• Five years, running consecutively, for three counts of providing alcohol to minors. The fourth count was suspended, meaning McCutchan will be on probation after leaving prison.

The felony charges will run concurrently and fall under Oklahoma’s 85 percent statute, meaning McCutchan will spend almost 13 years in prison before being eligible for parole.

McCutchan testified that she would not have stopped the relationships had her husband not discovered one of them. She said she was not thinking in terms of right or wrong as the relationships continued and didn’t begin to think about her actions until she was arrested.

She also expressed remorse about her actions and the effect they had on others.

“There’s no one in this room that can hate me more than I hate myself,” McCutchan said.

 During testimony, defense witness Richard Kishur, a psychosexual expert, said McCutchan needed counseling not available in the Department of Corrections.

District 25 Assistant District Attorney Crieg Rittenhouse gave the state’s closing argument.

“This is not about rehabilitation, this is about punishment,” Rittenhouse said. “She is a rapist.”

Pratt, after reading McCutchan’s sentence, said McCutchan would have to be responsible for her own rehabilitation. Another woman testified Wednesday to sexual abuse, but said she sought counseling and stopped the cycle herself.

“We’re not in the business of providing you with treatment you could have gotten elsewhere,” Pratt said.

District 25 District Attorney Rob Barris and Rittenhouse had said throughout the case it was their desire to send McCutchan to prison and to “not embarrass” the teenagers involved.

“We certainly agree with the court’s decision,” Barris said. “It accomplishes our purpose of punishing her and sending a message to the community that this behavior will not be tolerated.”

Reach Dylan Goforth at (918) 684-2903 or dgoforth@muskogeephoenix.com.

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