THOMSON — The former Harlem High School Junior ROTC instructor accused of having sex with a student was sentenced to four years’ probation and fined $2,000 after pleading guilty Thursday in McDuffie County Superior Court.
Judge Hal Hinesley accepted the plea from Mitchell Sivas, 59, of Thomson, which includes granting first offender status.
Sivas must register as a sex offender.
Several family and friends who spoke on his behalf asked the judge for leeway
on some of the provisions of sex offender status.
Hinesley allowed Sivas to visit with his children and grandchildren and perform community activities without restriction.
Hinesley ordered Sivas to check in monthly with a probation officer, not live within a certain distance of churches or schools, not have pornographic materials, not use any controlled substance, submit to random drug testing during probation, continue treatment with a psychologist, surrender all teaching credentials for life and never have contact with the student or her family.
After the four years of probation, Sivas will no longer have to register as a sex offender, but he will not be allowed to teach.
“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 a 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.