Former Acadiana High teacher Hurst gets 27 years

by Leslie Turk

Stephen Hurst's sick mind has put him behind bars for almost three decades.

Saying the guidelines were not harsh enough, U.S. District Judge Richard Haik Wednesday sentenced former Acadiana High School teacher Stephen Hurst to 324 months in prison followed by a lifetime of supervised release for enticing a minor to engage in sexual activity.

The 38-year-old pleaded guilty in February to using a facility in interstate commerce to cause a minor to engage in criminal sexual activity. According to testimony at Wednesday's sentencing, Hurst acknowledged that beginning in 2005 through March of 2010, he offered male students under the age of 18 the opportunity to use his residence so that they could engage in sexual activities with female students under the age of 16. The defendant would text the students and offer his apartment for them to meet. On some occasions, Hurst would hide a video camera in the room and videotape the minors engaging in sexual activity.

Hurst's actions even after his arrest last year would make matters worse in his sentencing.

Before his plea of guilty, in an effort to obtain a lesser sentence, Hurst submitted false information to the FBI, according to U.S. Attorney Stephanie Finley. He claimed that a major drug dealer had the address of an assistant U.S. attorney and intended to kill him. As a result of an investigation, it was determined that Hurst had obtained the information about the assistant from somewhere other than jail and was attempting to get a reduced sentence by lying to federal authorities.

At sentencing, Haik found that the sentencing guidelines were not appropriate. He stated that "a teacher who exploits children over and over again is the most serious crime that one could commit." The judge advised the defendant that the fact that he submitted false information to the FBI was a further demonstration that he was not truly sorry for his crimes. To give a lesser sentence than the guidelines called for would fail to take into account the seriousness of the offense, Haik noted.

"This defendant created an environment with the goal of exploiting children," Finley said. "This offense is the most serious of offenses because this defendant was a trusted teacher placed in charge of these children, and he violated their trust and the trust of their parents. Hurst not only caused them to produce child pornography, but he exploited them even further by showing the pornography that he made of them to other children, exploiting even more children."