The former Harlem High School JROTC instructor accused of having sex with a student was sentenced four years’ probation and a $2,000 fine after pleading guilty Thursday in McDuffie County Superior Court.
Judge Hal Hinesley accepted the plea for Mitchell Sivas, 59, of Thomson, that includes granting first offender status.
In addition to probation and the fine, Sivas must register as a sex offender.
Several of Sivas’ family members and friends who spoke on his behalf asked the judge for leeway on some of the provisions of sex offender status, and Hinesley allowed Sivas to continue to have visits with his children and grandchildren and able to perform community activities without restriction.
In addition to ordering Sivas to register as a sex offender, Hinesley ordered him to check in monthly with a probation officer, to not live within a certain distance of churches or schools, to not have pornographic materials, not use any controlled substance, to submit to random drug testing during probation, to continue treatment with a psychologist, to surrender all teaching credentials for life and to never have any contact with the victim or her family.
After the four years of probation are over, Sivas will no longer have to register as a sex offender, but he will not be allowed to teach again.
“This was a very difficult case,” Hinesley said. “I understand the contact between Mr. Sivas and the female student was consensual, but the age difference is a serious concern.”
Sivas was 57 and the student 17 at the time of the incidents.
“While the state may allow a 17-year-old to consent, at that age she is still a child,” Hinesley said. ]
The charge against Sivas – sexual assault with a person in custody – refers to any teacher who has sex with a student who attends the same school. The law does not allow the student’s consent to be used as a defense.
The student has since graduated from Harlem High and is attending college.