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Ex-high school math teacher in Fresno sentenced for having sex with former student

A former Central West High School math teacher was sentenced Friday to one year in the Fresno County Jail and two years of probation for having sex with an underage girl.

Michael Dean Morton, 46, was arrested March 16, 2017 after sheriff’s detectives received a report that he had been involved in a sexual relationship with a former student. The alleged activity took place in 2015, shortly after the 17-year-old girl had graduated from Central West.

Further investigation by detectives found a total of four alleged victims, ages 16 to 17.

Morton was charged with unlawful sexual intercourse, child molesting and two counts of showing pornography to a minor. Morton had been with the district since August 2006.

In May, he agreed to plead no contest to one count of unlawful sexual intercourse. The remaining charges were dropped.

During Morton’s sentencing hearing before Judge Samuel Dalesandro, Deputy District Attorney Justine Keel explained that a plea agreement was offered, in part, because of several procedural and evidentiary issues with the case.

Keel proposed two years of probation, one year in the county jail and no registration as a sex offender.

Morton’s attorney, Linden Lindahl, asked the judge if his client could be referred to the adult offender work program instead of spending one year in jail.

“He has already paid a price,” Lindahl said. “First he has lost his career, and that will not return. He has expressed remorse for his poor judgment and he is paying child support, so he needs to keep working.”

The judge denied Morton’s request to stay out of jail, calling the charges against him “extremely concerning conduct.”

Morton was sentenced to two years probation and a year in jail. The judge also issued a 10-year criminal protective order for the four women involved.

“You took advantage of a position of trust and you engaged in grooming, which was entirely inappropriate — and there are consequences for that type of conduct especially with someone in your position,” Dalesandro said.

Morton asked the judge if he could turn himself into the jail on Monday so he could get his affairs in order.

The judge said no and remanded him into custody.