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Former Heritage teacher sentenced to serve 10 years

CONYERS -- A judge sentenced a former Heritage High School art teacher to serve 10 years for having an inappropriate relationship with a student.

Leslie Howard Mosley Jr., 37, of 1511 North Cheney Drive, Vidalia, and previously of Covington, pleaded guilty Thursday morning to two of five charges against him -- child molestation and sexual assault by person with supervisory or disciplinary authority. The remaining charges -- two counts of aggravated child molestation and another count of sexual assault -- will not be pursued, as they were nolle prossed, according to Senior Assistant District Attorney Dabney Kentner.

Kentner said Thursday that Mosley met the victim when she was his student. Investigators recovered more than 100,000 Facebook messages between the two that were sent during the course of their two-year relationship.

Mosley, who was released from jail on $50,000 bond, had pleaded not guilty to all five charges against him in September.

"He was not implicated or assessed as a predator or a school threat," said Mosley's attorney David LaMalva during Thursday's hearing. "This was isolated, and while absolutely illegal, we ask for the court to understand."

Kentner said the event has taken an emotional toll on the student and her family. Superior Court Judge F. Robert Mumford noted that he had received letters from her family, as well as Mosley's parents.

Mumford sentenced Mosley according to the state's recommendation -- for child molestation, he was sentenced to 15 years to serve 10 and ordered to pay a $2,000 fine, and for sexual assault, he was sentenced to 15 years to serve 10, with that sentence to run concurrently with the previous charge. The judge said he could have been sentenced to up to 45 years in prison.

During the hearing, Mosley read a letter that he said he wrote "heartfelt over the past day" and wanted to read, even against his attorney's recommendation, since he knew the victim's family was in the courtroom.

"I want the family and my family to know how sorry I am. I've been praying for their healing and peace," he said. "These events are going to be with me until the end of my days on earth."

He added that he was sorry to his wife and three children, his friends, to the community for causing a disturbance and even to himself.

"I made the worst decision of my life with one of the best people in my life," he continued. "Remember, I'm only human, and I'm flawed by nature -- my spirit is not ill."

He asked for love, compassion and mercy.

"I pray for your mercy and forgiveness, even if it's eventual because it will never arrive too late," he said.

The Rockdale County Board of Education terminated Mosley in March 2012, along with reporting him to the Georgia Professional Standards Commission and the Department of Family and Children Services, after an investigation. The Rockdale County Sheriff's Office arrested him in April after discovering his relationship with the student.

After fellow students informed HHS Principal Greg Fowler of the relationship last March, school administrators confronted him, and later Mosley admitted to law enforcement officers that he had a sexual relationship with the student.

Evidence showed that Mosley wrote the student notes, songs and electronic messages on Facebook and her cellphone from a time period when she was 15 to her age of 17 in March 2012, according to an RCPS investigation. They also created art and music together, Mosley admitted.

He had been a teacher for 13 years prior to his arrest. In June, the PSC accepted Mosley's submitted voluntary surrender, and his teaching certificate for Georgia has since been revoked.