Ex-Teacher Pleads Guilty to Child Rape
The Former Blacksburg Science Teacher Will Serve 15 Years in Prison for Charges Related to an Ohio Girl Who Was Younger Than 10 at the Time

By Tonia Moxley
Roanoke Times
March 9, 2007

Hamilton, Ohio — Retired Blacksburg teacher Jonathan Utin pleaded guilty Thursday to eight charges of child rape and eight charges of gross sexual imposition of an Ohio girl who was then younger than 10. He will serve 15 years in prison without parole.

Judge Noah Powers of the Butler County, Ohio, General Division Court accepted the plea agreement, which was "highly desired by the victim's family," assistant prosecutor Greg Stephens told the judge. After the proceeding, Stephens said the family agreed to the deal to avoid more trauma to their daughter, who is still a minor.

The Ohio victim came forward last year after conversations with friends at school made her realize she had been molested by Utin, Stephens said.

Utin, 65, was arrested in Blacksburg on Sept. 18 and extradited to Ohio, where he was indicted on the 16 charges, all stemming from abuse that occurred from 1998 to 2002 in Ohio and Blacksburg. Police say he confessed to the crimes.

Police testified later that Utin also confessed to molesting at least two other girls, a 3-year-old from Alabama and a sixth-grader with whom he reportedly said he'd had a long-term sexual relationship.

Blacksburg police have worked on the case for months, but local charges have yet to be filed. Montgomery County Commonwealth's Attorney Brad Finch on Thursday called the plea agreement "a positive development for our case."

Finch said "several charges ... possibly related to more than one" Virginia victim will be brought against Utin after he is formally sentenced in Ohio at a hearing on April 17.

Before that hearing, Powers ordered an evaluation to determine whether Utin should be considered a sexual offender or a sexual predator, a designation that would affect his supervision after prison, Stephens said.

At the request of Utin's attorneys, the judge ordered that evaluators not question him about any alleged Virginia victims. Powers also ordered that the contents of the evaluation be sealed.

Utin seemed to struggle as he answered the judge's questions Thursday. As the charges were read aloud, he sometimes shook his head from side to side and other times bowed his head and hugged his arms to his chest. He said little in response to the judge's questions besides "yes, sir" and, several times, "guilty."

Utin worked as a Blacksburg Middle School science teacher from 1968 to 2003, and as a substitute teacher in Blacksburg schools until his arrest last year. News of the confession frightened and devastated many in Blacksburg, where Utin was considered a pillar of the community.

He was known for organizing star-gazing trips, nature walks and other activities for children. For decades, he put on an annual "dairy show," taking Blacksburg sixth-graders to Virginia Tech's barns to teach them about calves. In 2002, he served as grand marshal of Blacksburg's Fourth of July parade and won town civic beautification awards for his house and garden on Toms Creek Road.

He also served for a short time as a Sunday school teacher at Christ Episcopal Church in Blacksburg and for years managed the Shawnee Swim Club pool, where court records say he sometimes took the Ohio victim.

In 1995, a student teacher from Tech who was working at Blacksburg Middle School officially complained about Utin's behavior toward students. It's unclear if Blacksburg school officials, who have declined to comment on Utin, investigated the complaint. But Tech officials never again placed a student teacher with him.

Montgomery County Schools Superintendent Tiffany Anderson could not be reached for comment Thursday.

About a month before Utin's arrest, someone complained to a Christ Church official about an incident from more than 30 years ago involving Utin, interim Rector Elizabeth Morgan said in September. The incident did not happen at the church, Morgan said. And she declined to say what the incident was or to identify who reported it.

Morgan was away from the church Thursday and could not be contacted.

If convicted of any crimes in Virginia, Utin will not be turned over for punishment until his release from prison in Ohio, Stephens said. Utin will be 80 before he is released.

Staff writer Shawna Morrison contributed to this report.

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