CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A former Kanawha County Junior ROTC instructor accused of having a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old student will serve five years of supervised probation.
Martin Dale Kirby, 44, of Longridge Road, previously entered a Kennedy v. Frazier plea to the charge of sexual abuse by a person of trust.
In such a plea, a person maintains innocence but considers it in his or her best interest to enter a plea agreement.
Kirby was hired as a contract Junior ROTC instructor at George Washington High School in 2010. Prosecutors say in September of that year, he had a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old student.
They met in the school's ROTC office one morning and he touched her over her clothing, according to a criminal complaint. The student told detectives she and Kirby planned to meet again in the office following that encounter, and she said they had consensual sex.
Kirby initially faced 10-20 years in prison and his attorney, Michael Carey, recommended a lesser sentence. Carey said the victim was three months away from being 18-years-old at that time and noted the relationship was consensual.
Carey said state law included a wide range of conduct in the 10-20 year sentence and in some situations, probation could be warranted.
Carey brought up Kirby's "remarkable military career," noting he served in the U.S. Army for 22 years and reached the high rank of command sergeant major.
He said his career demonstrates his conduct was the exception rather than the norm for his character. Carey said Kirby brought shame to his family, his career, the U.S. Army and ROTC, and that he is making less than half in his new job stocking shelves.
"He went from a leader of men to now being known as a sex offender," Carey said.
Carey also said Kirby's evaluations states he has a very low risk of coming back into the system and said the victim didn't express any interest in seeing him go to jail.
When Kirby addressed the court, he apologized to the victim, his family, the U.S. Army, ROTC and George Washington staff and students.
"I would like to state publicly to the victim that I am truly sorry. She was my student ... and I violated that trust," he said.
He also said he hoped his conduct would have no longterm effects on the victim.
Bailey said Kirby stood before her on "one of the most serious offenses someone can commit." However, she also noted Kirby's pre-sentence report was one of the longest she has ever seen and it outlined his "glowing record."
"And yet we have this offense," Bailey said, later adding. "I will tell you Mr. Kriby, I don't have much use for sex offenders. I pretty much lock them up as long as I can"
In addition to his five year sentence of supervised probation, Kirby also must participate in a sex offender treatment program, must register for life as a sex offender and must spend 52 weekends in South Central Regional Jail.
Bailey said she would hold another hearing to determine whether he can continue living with his children, as the law prohibits someone of his status from contact with minors.