Salem teacher gets 30 days for sex abuse of students

SALEM, Ore. Donald Mansell, a former Christian school teacher and athletics coach, will serve 30 days in jail after pleading guilty to two counts of third-degree sexual abuse and two counts of harassment. The misdemeanor convictions stem from incidents where Mansell, 37, fondled two teenage female students and asked them for sex.

Mansell, who worked at Livingston Adventist Academy and who is also son-in-law of Marion County Judge Vance Day, was sentenced to five years of probation to begin after his release from jail. He'll also have to register as a sex offender.

The sentencing conditions allow Mansell to have his probation ended two years early if he fully complies with its terms, court documents show. He can also have the convictions erased from his record in time.

Ron Sayer, an attorney representing Mansell's victims, said the sentence is the "worse miscarriage of justice that occurs in our system."

"This is a tragedy. It's horrible," he said. "I don't think its a good thing for our society when a teacher can do that kind of thing and get a light sentence."

Mansell and his attorneys could not immediately be reached for comment.

Spencer Gwartney, a Lane County prosecutor appointed to the case because of Mansell's relationship to Day, said he is satisfied with the outcome.

"I didn’t feel it would be appropriate if there was no jail time," said Gwartney, who added that most convictions for misdemeanor sex abuse don't come with jail time. He said it wasn't possible to charge Mansell with a felony and that a trial would have been lengthy and complicated.

Mansell was charged after a 16-year-old female student at the private Christian school accused him of touching her inappropriately and soliciting sex from her. The incident was surreptitiously audio recorded on the victim's phone, and that recording was used as evidence against Mansell, according to court records.

Another female student came forward and made similar allegations against Mansell, which resulted in more charges, records show.

Mansell no longer works at the school, and he was never licensed to teach by the State of Oregon, records show. His sentencing stipulates that he must stay away from children and places where they gather, like schools or athletic events.

A retired judge was appointed to oversee the case because of Mansell's relationship to Day, who has sat on the Marion County bench since 2011. Oregon's judicial ethics commission this year recommended that Day be removed from his judgeship for ethics violations. That case is pending before the Oregon Supreme Court, which has power over judicial discipline.

A warrant was issued for Mansell's arrest in November 2015, but he was never taken into custody. Instead, Mansell was allowed to turn himself in four months later. A sheriff's office spokesman said the situation amounted to a mix-up; deputies failed to follow up with the prosecutor and didn't know a warrant had been issued.

Despite Mansell's guilty pleas, other legal action related to his crimes remains unresolved.

A civil suit seeking $5.25 million in damages was filed in May against the Seventh Day Adventist Church on behalf of one of Mansell's victims. The suit alleges that Livingston Adventist Academy administrators knew of the abuse but did not act. It also argues that officials within the church, which owns and operates the rural Marion County school, had a duty to protect the victim from abuse.

Send questions, comments or news tips to gfriedman2@statesmanjournal.com or 503-399-6653. Follow on Twitter @GordonRFriedman.


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