‘A long time coming’: Former students react to former AD teacher Jeffrey Clayton’s sentencing

A former music teacher at the Douglas Anderson School of the Arts was sentenced today to 10 years in prison. This happened after Jeffrey Clayton admitted to sexual harassment with a minor.

Friday’s hearing was difficult for many, especially the girls who testified as witnesses. Former students and a school board member said it was an emotional day, but they were relieved to have some closure.

Clayton left in handcuffs, facing 10 years in prison and three years on probation.

Sentencing Clayton, the judge said: “You should have known better, you were the adult here.”

“It’s definitely been a long time coming,” said witness JC

Clayton was a former vocal director at the Douglas Anderson School of the Arts. He was arrested last year and pleaded guilty several months ago to sex crimes involving a 16-year-old student.

This student had just graduated and was speaking in court today. We also heard a recorded telephone conversation between Clayton and this student. The conversation was about going further than just kissing. The judge called the interaction “appalling.”

Another recent graduate, identified as JC, also testified as a witness against Clayton.

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“I’m just happy that we’re finally able to put an end to it and that he’s somewhere where we know he can’t hurt anyone,” JC said.

Clayton apologized in court today.

“It wasn’t just terrifying, it was disgusting,” said former AD student Shyla Jenkins.

Jenkins graduated from Douglas Anderson in 2002 and says the most shocking thing she learned was how long it took.

“I started at DA before Clayton was there – he was my junior successor,” Jenkins said. “And these victims came up there and said this was behavior that started with us… So many of these girls could have been saved, it was emotional.”

School board member Dr. Lori Hershey also reacted to the ruling.

“It was an emotional day in the courtroom,” Dr. Hershey said. “But we have a responsibility to keep students safe, and I admire the courage of the women who spoke out.”

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Dr. Hershey said the district is working to improve the situation.

“I have confidence that the legal counsel we have will continue to improve,” Dr. Hershey said.

JC said she is happy that she will be able to help other girls in the future.

As for Clayton, he will also have to meet sex offender conditions for not having contact with children.

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