Monty Staton, the former band director at Cross Roads and Trinidad ISDs, pleaded “open” on Monday to indecency with a child in a Smith County courtroom. The action set the wheels in motion for him to be sentenced at a later date.

A pre-sentence investigation was ordered for his sentencing, scheduled for May 12 in 7th District Judge Kerry L. Russell’s court.

Staton’s lawyer, Bill C. Stephens, said it is not uncommon for sentencing to take several months. He said unlike some hearings, witnesses will be called for Staton’s sentencing. The pre-sentence report will be lengthy and must be read by both sides.

By pleading open, Staton refused his right to a jury trial, leaving his fate in the hands of Russell. One reason he pleaded open was because Stephens will be asking for probation for Staton.

Staton is eligible for probation because this is his first offense. Indecency with a child is a third-degree felony punishable by two to 10 years in prison and/or a $10,000 fine.

Stephens said he has not discussed what witnesses he would call, and is not sure if the state is planning on calling the victim.

Stephens said the charge Staton pleaded to is similar to indecent exposure.

“No touching involved, no sex involved,” Stephens said.

The child’s mother said her son’s relationship with Staton dated back at least three years to when he began taking piano lessons from him. Since that time, she said, Staton had taken her son on numerous trips to his condo on Lake Palestine.

On Dec. 17, 2004, the eighth-grade Trinidad student told his grandmother he had been sexually molested by Staton, according to the victim’s mother. The grandmother told the mother, who in turn called authorities with the allegation.

The Athens Daily Review is withholding names of all family members to protect the identity of the child.

“I thought he was being a kind of big brother to him when he spent the weekends with him at the condo,” she told the Review after charges first emerged.

Staton served as Trinidad band director for six years before taking the same position at Cross Roads High School for six years.

He resigned from CRHS during the 2004 Christmas break.

Staton gave no notice nor reason for his resignation from Cross Roads.

“Monty was band director for us up until Christmas (2004), and he resigned at that time,” Cross Roads Superintendent Clay Tompkins told the Review last year.

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e-mail bbennett@athensreview.com

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