RIPLEY - Former Ravenswood High School Band director Nathaniel Corathers, 29, will spend at least 11 years in prison, following his sentencing in Jackson Circuit Court Friday by Judge Thomas C. Evans III.
Judge Evans sentenced Corathers to 10-20 years in prison for one felony count of sexual abuse by a parent, guardian, custodian or person in a position of trust to a child, and 2-10 years for a felony count of solicitation of a minor via computer. The sentences are to be served consecutively (back to back), meaning Corathers must spend at least 11 years in prison and up to 30 years behind bars. He willbe given credit for 234 days spent in jail and 93 days spent on home confinement to reduce the minimum 12 years he must serve in prison.
In addition, Corathers will be under extended supervision for 50 years once released from prison, and must register as a sex offender for the rest of his life.
Corathers was arrested on October 26, 2015, at his Turkey Fork home, following an investigation by JCBI detectives, Ravenswood Police Department officers and Ravenswood High School PRO Tom Speece.
The investigation centered around a female minor, who Corathers taught as a band student at RvHS, after her parents voiced concerns about over 5,000 text messages between Corathers and their daughter, “private band lessons” and other clandestine meetings.
Investigators discovered in their probe including interviews with the alleged victim that the relationship had allegedly intensified and become sexual with laisons at the school and at Corathers’ home when he picked the girl up after she sneaked out of her parents’ home. The investigation ncluded claims of some bizarre fetishes by Corathers.
The Jackson County Board of Education voted to terminate Corathers’ employment effective December 11, 2015 with him still being held in the South Central Regional Jail.
Corathers was indicted by the February, 2016 grand jury on four felony counts of sexual abuse by a parent, guardian, custodian or person in a position of trust to a child; four felony counts of sexual abuse-third degree; one felony count of soliciting a minor via computer; and eight felony counts gross child neglect contributing to substantial risk of death or severe bodily harm.
Corathers eventually entered a guilty plea to one count of sexual abuse by a parent, guardian, custodian or person in a position of trust to a child; and one felony count of soliciting a minor via computer in exchange for the dropping of the other felony charges against him.
On Friday in Jackson Circuit Courtroom before Judge Evans, Corathers and his attorney Kevin Hughart asked the court to consider alternative sentencing since Corathers had no prior criminal record and it was his first substantial offense. Hughart requested that part of the sentence be meted out as home confinement. Letters of recommendation and support for Corathers were part of the record and pre-sentencing investigation.
Corathers addressed the court, saying he admitted to the offenses, was embarrassed, had already served eight months in jail and understood he would have to register as a sex offender for life. He asked the court for mercy in sentencing.
The victim and her parents then addressed the court in emotional individual testimonies, detailing the impact the crimes have had on their family, and how the victim continues to be impacted with the loss of friends, and blame by classmates and adults alike who either refuse to believe the charges against Corathers are true or that they are her fault.
In rendering his sentencing decision, Judge Evans stated that it is the responsibility of the court to dispense justice fairly, but firstly to protect people. He noted that it seems the world and out communities are falling apart with seex crimes and drug cases overcrowding the courts.
Judge Evans said he believes the crimes occurred, and are a classic case of grooming and manipulation of a minor by an adult in a trusted role as an educatior. He state that Corathers has confessed to the offenses with which he is charged. He further stated that the victim in the case has suffered permanent emotional damage, and is truly the victim of emotionally and psychologically. He therefore ordered prison sentenced on the charges to be served consecutively (back to back) with a lengthy term of extended supervision and sex offender registration for life.