SANTA ANA ( — A 51-year-old man who used to teach math at a San Clemente middle school was sentenced Friday to eight years in prison for sexually assaulting several of his students, according to court documents.

Richard John Rack, of San Clemente, pleaded guilty to two counts of lewd acts on a child age 14 or 15, a count of lewd or lascivious acts with a minor younger than 14 and a count of oral copulation of a minor younger than 16, all felonies.

Prosecutors dropped four other felony charges, which could have increased Rack’s sentence to 14 years had he been convicted, according to his attorney, David Cohn.

Rack was ordered to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life.

The Orange County Sheriff’s Department arrested Rack in June 2012 after two girls, ages 13 and 14, complained to officials at Shorecliffs Middle School that the math teacher made lewd comments to them and hugged them, prosecutors said.

Investigators also discovered Rack sexually assaulted a third girl, who was 14 years old at the time, between February 2009 and October 2010.

During the hearing, the former teacher apologized to the victims. Cohn said the counseling Rack received in jail has “opened his eyes” and said he pleaded guilty to spare witnesses from having to testify on his behalf.

While Cohn portrayed Rack as a sympathetic teacher who reached out to students who needed emotional support or academic help, prosecutors had several students testify that he acted inappropriately.

One former student, now 18, said Rack was her eight-grade algebra teacher and that she often met with him alone after school.

“He would compliment me and say I’m smart, mature for my age,” she testified. “He said that if he were younger and I were older, he would like to be with me.”

The girl said that Rack approached her at a school dance and said, “Damn, girl.”

She began avoiding Rack and eventually wrote him a letter that said he made her uncomfortable.

The former teacher surprised prosecutors in August when he decided to plead guilty to four of the eight charges.

Rack must serve 85 percent of his time behind bars, according to Deputy District Attorney Vanessa Woods.

(©2013 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services contributed to this report.)


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