Ex-Cobb coach, teacher to serve 3 years for kissing, fondling student

Justin Allen Blankenbecler

Justin Allen Blankenbecler

A former teacher and volleyball coach at Kell High School was sentenced to 10 years, including three to serve in prison, for sexually assaulting one of his students, the Cobb County District Attorney’s said Thursday.

Justin Allen Blankenbecler, 28, who now lives in Virginia, was convicted Wednesday of two counts of sexual assault and one count of misdemeanor exhibiting pornography to a minor, DA Vic Reynolds’ office said.

In September 2014, Blankenbecler was in his first year at the school when he kissed and fondled a 16-year-old in his office and sent her an explicit photograph of himself, according to investigators. A parent found out about the incidents and alerted school personnel, who contacted Cobb police.

The evidence showed that on two occasions in September 2014, the defendant kissed and fondled a 16-year-old girl at the school. He also sent her an explicit photograph of himself, according to prosecutors.

The victim told investigators that she initially liked the attention he was giving her. But as Blankenbecler’s advances became more aggressive, she became uncomfortable and asked him to stop, but he did not, the DA’s office said.

“Within a month of starting his employment at Kell High School, this 27-year-old man preyed on the emotional immaturity of a teenager, abused his authority as an educator, and violated the trust of the victim, her family, the school system, and the public,” said Assistant District Attorney Lindsay Gardner, who prosecuted the case.

Blankenbecler, who taught special education, is a Virginia native who earned undergraduate and graduate degrees from George Mason University, his online profile on the Kell website stated before his termination.

Under Georgia law, consent is not an eligible defense for those with supervisory and disciplinary authority over an alleged victim of sexual assault. Blankenbecler apologized to his victim in court.

“I know I was wrong in my actions,” Blankenbecler said. “Looking back at what I did, it goes against every reason I went into teaching.”

Cobb Superior Court Judge Ann Harris sentenced Blankenbecler to 10 years, including three to serve in prison. He was returned to the Cobb jail from the courtroom.

“My concern is that in 30 days, you went from being new in town, a total stranger, to having her in a coach’s office at 6:15 in the morning, kissing her, groping her, feeling her up,” Harris said. “We trust you to be the adult. To be the leader, to set the example, to foster a healthy learning environment every day. … What she needed was for you to leave her alone, and you didn’t. You encouraged her. You pushed, and you pushed.”

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