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Ex-Joshua Tree teacher sentenced in child molestation case

January 23, 2013 |  1:50 pm

A former Joshua Tree first-grade teacher was sentenced Tuesday to 60 years to life in prison for lewd acts with children.

Caleb Douglas Hesse, 52, accepted a plea bargain last month and pleaded guilty to four counts of lewd or lascivious acts with a child and one count or oral copulation with a minor under the age of 14, the Sun reported. He was originally charged with 17 sex crimes.

Deputy Dist. Atty. Jane Templeton told the newspaper Hesse's charges involved five identified victims. In August, investigators said Hesse admitted he had been molesting boys since the early 1980s and may had done so as recently as a week before his arrest.

"He could have gotten hundreds of years because of the amount of victims and the number of times," Templeton told the Sun.

Hesse was recently a first-grade teacher at Friendly Hills Elementary School in Joshua Tree and also served as a youth volunteer with the Evangelical Free Church in Yucca Valley, officials said. As a church volunteer, he was involved in a number of overnight outings with kids throughout California, according to the sheriff’s department.

Hesse's attorney, Jason Oei, said after Tuesday's sentencing that his client was "very remorseful, very apologetic," the Sun reported.

The judge denied a request by Oei to read a written apology from Hesse during the hearing.

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— Kate Mather

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