Prison sentence provides closure

Prison sentence provides closure

Stan Vickers of Martin was trusted and admired among those who knew him, especially the children he taught. 

He not only guided young minds in the classroom, but he led them on the soccer fields in Martin.

Students trusted him and, in turn, their parents trusted him. It was that trust and admiration that became some of the hardest emotions to stomach for the father of Vickers’ victim.

“We are a tight family and if you hurt one of us, you hurt all of us. Today my son is a man. A man that I am proud of and love very deeply. But when this happened he was a child, my child,” the victim’s father recalled.

Last spring Vickers was indicted by a federal grand jury for accusations of transporting a 14-year-old Martin Middle School student across state lines to engage in sexual activity with the victim in 2003.

From there, the sexual abuse with the teenager would continue for the next several years.

“As the father of four, my job was to raise them with Christian values and protect them. I let my son down because I trusted Stan Vickers. I trusted Stan as a fellow church member who would shake my hand every Sunday morning,” the father explained as he held back tears. “It was in these trusting situations that the pedophile Stan Vickers was sexually abusing my son.”

During the years of abuse, the family experienced problems but did not know the root of those problems until the truth was revealed. From there, the only place to go was forward and legal action was taken in an effort to ensure swift justice.

Vickers served as a Martin Middle School teacher, a Westview High School teacher and a coach for soccer teams at both schools.

After his indictment in March of last year, he remained in jail. He admitted his wrongdoing when he pleaded guilty in October.

On Tuesday in federal court in Memphis, he was sentenced to six years in federal prison with no possibility of parole.

Does six years seem enough time for a man who took away that many years of innocence from his victim?

“Of course you wish he would spend the rest of his life in prison. He took something from my son that he can never get back,” the victim’s father answered, adding that a trial would have been a devastating ordeal for the victim to endure, so a plea agreement was reached between the parties.

Vickers was also sentenced to 35 years of supervised probation. He will be placed on the sex offender registry for his lifetime.

Under the terms of his sentencing, Vickers cannot have contact with children under age 18 or serve as an educator. He will have to gain permission to get a credit card. Vickers cannot have a home computer or phone with access to the Internet. He cannot have access to pornography or 1-900 telephone numbers.

As a convicted felon, he will never be able to vote or own a gun and he will submit drug tests and undergo mental health counseling.

Martin Police Chief David Moore said his department was prepared for the terms of the sentencing as they had worked closely with all of the investigating agencies during the process of Vickers’ federal case.

“There were no surprises going into the sentencing hearing,” he said Wednesday. “One thing that was unexpected was the 35-year probation sentence in addition to the prison sentence.”

The chief added that the lengthy probation sentence was a further indication of the seriousness of the case.

“The judge made sure there were extra precautions in place to make sure that he didn’t re-offend,” he said. “We were glad that the victim had his day in court.”

The effects of child sexual abuse include depression, post-traumatic stress disorder and anxiety. Studies have shown that the fundamental damage inflicted by child sexual abuse is due to the child’s developing capacity for trust, intimacy and sexuality and that many of the mental health problems of adult life are from abuse.

The brain is still developing in childhood and sexuality is blossoming around age 12. Research has shown there is an actual change in brain structure in abused children.

“There was a reason that Stan began his sexual grooming of my child at age 12 and later sexual exploitation by setting up school and business trips to be with my son. I did not expect to have my child’s sexual innocence taken away by a 37-year-old man,” the father admitted.

As was ordered, Vickers will be 80 years old when he is released from supervised probation. While the maximum sentence of 30 years in prison wasn’t handed down to Vickers, Tuesday’s sentencing does provide the family with closure, according to the father of the victim.

“That was some closure for us as an investigating agency,” Moore commented. He later added that the victim in this case presented one of the most meaningful statements he had heard in his years of law enforcement that truly depicted the reality of the crime and its impact on the victim.

Vickers was sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge Bernice Donald.

The case was a joint investigation by the Martin Police Department, Tennessee Bureau of Investigation and Federal Bureau of Investigation.

wcp 1/13/11

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