A former Provo High School teacher was sentenced Monday on multiple charges related to sexually abusing one of his former students.
Donald Bills, 55, was sentenced to seven years to life in prison. He was sentenced on five charges:
-- One first-degree felony charge of attempted forcible sodomy, a sentence of three years to life in prison
-- One first-degree felony charge of attempted object rape, a sentence of three years to life
-- One second-degree felony charge of forcible sexual abuse, a sentence of one to 15 years in prison
-- One third-degree felony charge of tampering with a witness, a sentence of zero to five years in prison
-- One second-degree felony charge of obstructing justice, a sentence of one to 15 years in prison.
"The gravity and circumstances of these events are great," said Judge James Taylor at sentencing. "We place great trust in our teachers."
Bills was arrested in January 2014 after a high school student told Provo police he sexually abused her, according to police reports.
The victim took classes from Bills in 2012. During that time, he formed a close bond with her and said she was “his favorite student and one of the brightest,” court documents state.
According to police, the relationship developed over a period of the next couple years, and in November 2013, Bills told the student he wanted to kiss her but could not because he was married.
Court documents state he kissed her in December 2013 but told her it would not go further and it would not happen again. However, later in the month, Bills touched the victim’s bare skin inappropriately on numerous occasions.
The relationship grew more and more sexually inappropriate until Jan. 21, 2014, when one of the victim’s friends reportedly saw texts from Bills on the victim’s phone. The texts were graphic in nature, and the friend reported their existence to school administration.
Bills was arrested the next day. Bills pleaded guilty to the above charges in July 2015. He has since been out of jail on bail, but was ordered by Taylor to begin his prison sentence immediately.
"I am sorry for what I’ve done and I do take full responsibility," Bills said Monday.
His defense attorney, Stephen Frazier, said Bills suffered a traumatic brain injury years ago and as a result, his impulse control is affected.
However, prosecuting attorney Craig Johnson said Bills planned every move he made against the victim.
"I think the grooming aspect speaks to this ability to plan and organize," Johnson said.
The victim, who testified at sentencing, said Bills told her several times he had feelings for her. She also said he threatened her against telling anyone and told her he could go to prison if he was ever caught.
"He told me over and over again it was my fault," she said. "I was in such a dark place. I remained silent so that way, the only person who would get hurt was me."
The victim said she felt Bills exercised his position of trust over her, and his position in the bishopric of a local LDS church ward, to justify his actions.
"Going through this hell has shaken my testimony," she said.
The victim said she is afraid to drive in Provo, and has had her car egged and vandalized several times when she goes home to Provo.
Taylor said at sentencing that Bills has a non-existent criminal history and therefore could be recommended for concurrent sentencing rather than consecutive. However, based on the extreme nature of the charges, Taylor felt the maximum penalty was just.
"He still thinks of the event as when it was discovered, not when it occurred," Taylor said.
"I see you for what you truly are, a monster," the victim said. "I will be dealing with this for the rest of my life. You had no right."