Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Former Nature Coast Technical High band teacher gets nine years in prison for sex with student

BROOKSVILLE — Rejecting pleas of mercy from former students, a judge sentenced a former Hernando County teacher Thursday to more than nine years in prison for having sex with a 17-year-old girl.

Timothy Brightbill, 43, a former band director at Nature Coast Technical High School, pleaded guilty last month and left punishment to the judge.

"I crossed the line of ethics and the law by falling in love," he told the court, turning to the parents of the girl sitting in the courtroom. "I would never have harmed her, or let harm come to her, and I always respected her wishes. However, I accept responsibility for not stopping the relationship prior to it crossing that line."

Brightbill's attorney, James Campbell, argued for a sentence below state guidelines, saying the sex acts were mutual and victim, now 18, did not want to see her former teacher go to prison. In statements made to deputies, the student said she was "in love" with Brightbill.

But Circuit Judge Jack Springstead, echoing the arguments of the prosecutor, emphasized that Brightbill held a position of authority.

"The way this relationship arose violated a number of specific trusts bestowed upon Mr. Brightbill," he said. In particular, "he violated the trust of society in general."

Brightbill, a husband and father of one, faced a maximum 30 years in prison on two counts of sexual battery. Springstead gave him nine years and 1 1/2 months, the minimum punishment allowed under state sentencing guidelines, which the judge typically follows.

As deputies took Brightbill into custody, he reached for his wife's hand and kissed it. She sobbed loudly. His former students looked shocked.

Authorities arrested Brightbill on Dec. 31 after the girl's mother came home to find him on top of her daughter, both in underwear. The girl initially downplayed the relationship but Brightbill confessed to engaging in sexual acts on at least two occasions.

The defense attorney said Brightbill's cooperation and the mutual nature of the relationship call for a lesser sentence. He also provided a psychological evaluation suggesting Brightbill had a low risk of recidivism.

Assistant State Attorney Brian Trehy countered, saying he had "set out on a seduction process" that began a year earlier.

He reminded the court that months before the arrest, the girl's parents confronted Brightbill when they found he sent her flirtatious text messages.

"The laws were designed to protect children from (bad) decisions and those who would take advantage of those decisions," Trehy said.

Brightbill resigned after his arrest. Records indicated that school officials missed at least one red flag two years earlier when he was reprimanded by his principal for posting inappropriate photos on his MySpace page.

Brightbill was the second male teacher at Nature Coast Technical High School to get into trouble last school year for inappropriate relationships with female students.

Jamie Joyner, the school's head football coach, resigned after an investigation began into his relationship with a 17-year-old girl. No charges were filed.

John Frank can be reached at jfrank@sptimes.com or (352) 754-6114.

Former Nature Coast Technical High band teacher gets nine years in prison for sex with student 08/20/09 [Last modified: Thursday, August 20, 2009 6:20pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Tampa Bay Super Bowls: A brief history and some predictions for 2021

    Bucs

    At last, Tampa will host a Super Bowl again. It used to be that the Cigar City would host one a decade, but by the time February 2021 rolls around, it will have been 12 years since the epic showdown between the Steelers and Cardinals. Because it has been awhile, let's revisit those past Super Bowls while also peering …

    Santonio Holmes hauls in the game-winning touchdown in the Steelers' 27-23 Super Bowl XLIII victory over the Cardinals in 2009, the last time Tampa hosted a Super Bowl. [JAMES BORCHUCK | Times]
  2. Rays bats go silent in second straight loss to Angels (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Sure, Alex Cobb was to blame for the Rays' 4-0 loss on Tuesday.

    Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Alex Cobb (53) on the mound after the solo home run by Los Angeles Angels center fielder Mike Trout (27) in the first inning of the game between the Tampa Bay Rays and the Los Angeles Angels at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Monday, May 23, 2017.
  3. Analysis: Manchester attack was exactly what many had long feared

    World

    LONDON — For Britain's security agencies, London always seemed like the likely target. For years, the capital of 8 million with hundreds of thousands of weekly tourists and dozens of transit hubs had prepared for and feared a major terror attack.

  4. Dade City man dies after crashing into county bus, troopers say

    Public Safety

    ZEPHYRHILLS — A 38-year-old man died Tuesday after colliding into the rear of a county bus on U.S. 301, the Florida Highway Patrol said.

  5. Suspicious device at Pinellas Park home was a spent artillery round, police say

    Public Safety

    PINELLAS PARK — Bomb squad investigators determined that a "suspicious device" found at a Pinellas Park home Tuesday afternoon was a spent artillery round, police said.