OREGON CITY, Ore. (AP) — A former Oregon elementary school principal convicted of sexually abusing four students in his office is set to spend the rest of his life behind bars.
Clackamas County Circuit Judge Katherine Weber on Tuesday sentenced Jeff Hays to 43 years and nine months in state prison, matching the true life sentence recommended by a prosecutor, The Oregonian/OregonLive reported.
Hays, 68, was the top administrator at Deep Creek Elementary School in Damascus from 2005 to 2009. Earlier this month after a five-week trial, he was convicted of first-degree sexual abuse and six counts of unlawful sexual penetration.
Hays cannot lessen his sentence with good behavior or other programs while incarcerated, Weber ruled.
Defense attorney Jason Thompson argued for a 25-year sentence, noting Hays has no prior convictions.
“He is a man of integrity, he is a man with dignity,” Thompson said. Thompson said Hays will appeal the conviction.
Hays didn’t speak in court.
More than 50 witnesses and 80 pieces of evidence were examined during the trial, including testimony from the students who said they were sexually abused between 2005 and 2009.
The Gresham-Barlow School District has paid millions in civil jury verdicts and settlements to the four students, who filed lawsuits beginning six years ago.
Healy said the four families would seek restitution from Hays to pay for counseling services.