By MARISSA DECHANT – Staff writer
A former Franklin Middle School teacher who was arrested in May for engaging in a sexual relationship with a 13-year-old girl was sentenced Friday to serve up to 20 years in state prison.
Venango County Judge Robert Boyer ordered Kyle Askins, 25, of Franklin, to serve a minimum of 54 months in a state facility, with a maximum stay of 20 years.
Askins, a former health and physical education instructor, pleaded guilty in August to a felony count of involuntary deviate sexual intercourse of a person less than 16 years of age.
Charges against Askins were filed following a police response on May 1 to a residence for the report of a 13-year-old girl who left without her parents’ permission in the middle of the night, according to a criminal complaint filed through District Judge Patrick Lowrey’s office.
Later in the day, staff from Franklin Area School District contacted police with additional information, the complaint said.
Askins was interviewed by police and confessed to being involved in a relationship with the girl despite knowing she was only 13 years old, the complaint said.
Askins described meeting with her on 10 occasions outside of school and said he would take the girl to a residence on East Third Street in Oil City, according to the complaint.
He admitted to contacting the girl online at 3 a.m. May 1, picking her up at her house and taking her to the house in Oil City, the complaint said.
Askins, a 2010 Franklin High School graduate, was formally terminated by the school district after charges were filed.
In describing Askins’ actions Friday, Assistant District Attorney Justin Fleeger said the former teacher had been predatory.
Fleeger said the relationship had been an ongoing plan that followed the reported breakup between Askins and his fiancee.
Askins began by consoling the girl who had recently suffered the loss of her grandparents, and the behavior escalated when he started giving her CDs and other gifts, Fleeger said.
The two met on and off school grounds, said Fleeger, and the relationship continued despite interference by the school district.
“That type of behavior is not a mistake….He should have to live with this for his entire life as she does,” Fleeger said.
Askins’ defense counsel, Michael Antkowiak, said his client’s behavior was “so out of character,” and Askins never looked to place blame on anyone but himself.
“This matter has so severely affected at least those two families and other people throughout the community,” Antkowiak said.
Askins, who appeared somber in court, said he did not initially intend for the relationship to occur.
In addressing the girl’s family, Askins said he had failed everyone and could not ask for the family’s forgiveness.
“I know the year that you’ve had. I can’t express how much I hate myself standing in front of you today,” he said.
Askins’ father and grandmother spoke in support of him, describing his achievements and life-long goal of becoming a teacher.
“Kyle wanted to be a teacher in the community he grew up in, right here in Franklin,” said Askins’ father, Christopher Askins.
“I’m shocked, stunned, angry and disappointed that he’s here today due to poor decision making. I can only imagine the turmoil and outrage this has caused,” he continued.
Boyer said the case had a tremendous impact on everyone involved.
The judge included in his orders that Askins undergo sexual offender programming and pay restitution to the girl’s family.