New Kent Charles City Chronicle

News for New Kent County and Charles City County, Virginia | January 22, 2020

Former New Kent teacher sentenced to five years in prison for attempting to solicit sex with a minor

By Andre Jones | September 30, 2019 10:04 pm

A former New Kent teacher who used a communication device in an attempt to solicit sex from a minor will spend the next five years in prison.

Matthew Spencer Duckworth, 41, formerly of the 9000 block of Chestnut Drive, New Kent, received formal sentencing on two counts of attempting to solicit a minor age 15 or less for sex with a communication device during Monday afternoon proceedings in New Kent Circuit Court.

During a March 25 trial, Duckworth entered the guilty pleas to the crimes that took place between Aug. 16-21, 2018. In a summary of evidence provided by Commonwealth’s Attorney Linwood Gregory at that trial, more than 3,000 messages that consisted of texts, videos, and pictures were exchanged between Duckworth and the victim. Information in those messages included Duckworth telling the victim how to destroy the pictures, videos, and text messages, along with his comments about how his life and career would be ruined if he exposed.

Judge B. Elliott Bondurant read both victim impact statements and letters of support from Duckworth. The judge then heard from both Gregory and defense attorney Todd DuVal prior to sentencing, with both sides arguing about the right punishment for the defendant.

“What he did was very disgusting and for the position of trust he held in the community and in the schools,” Gregory said. “Some say this is a one-time offense, but the psycho-sexual evaluation says otherwise.”

“The psycho-sexual evaluation says the defendant believed for himself to be in love with the victim,” argued DuVal. “There’s a difference of him being in love and him being a predator.

“I believe this is a one-time case,” DuVal continued. “He [Duckworth] made a tremendous mistake and nobody is asking that he receives a slap on the wrist. He’s going to be punished no matter what happens today. His college education and career are out of the window, and he has no chance of substantial employment in the future.”

“The victim is still fragile,” Gregory retorted. “Mr. Duckworth took advantage in his position of power as a teacher with this student.

“Is he truly remorseful for what he did or is he remorseful he got caught?” the Commonwealth’s Attorney continued. “The victim is suffering and will have to endure this for the rest of her life.”

DuVal commented about Duckworth’s mindset when he made the guilty plea.

“Mr. Duckworth didn’t want to see the victim suffer through testifying in this trial,” the defense attorney said. “Ever since he was arrested on the charge, he’s been thinking about the what he did and those were the reasons why he pleaded guilty.”

After hearing final arguments for sentencing, Bondurant began his monologue about the case.

“I remember seeing the video and what bother me the most was that he was a teacher,” said the judge. “My mother was a teacher for 46 years.

“The letters about you from your peers were glowing and said that you were a wonderful teacher and coach,” Bondurant said as he addressed Duckworth directly. “But then I read the psycho-sexual evaluation and you said you were in love with this girl. That makes no sense. The statement you made is that if you cut it off, you’d get in more trouble, but you kept going down a slippery slope once you got involved. You should have never got on it in the first place.

“I’ll never be able to erase those images out my brain,” the judge said as he wrapped up his comments. “I know that she won’t be able to get them out of hers.”

Duckworth received a 10-year sentence with five years suspended on the first count of the solicitation conviction. All 10 years were suspended on the second charge. He must pay $4,618.70 in restitution, cannot live around children or be in the area of children unless having preapproved supervision, must register as a sex offender in national database, and will not be able to use electronic devices or access the internet unless it’s for work purposes or under supervised monitoring.