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Former Manassas teacher sentenced to year in jail on sex abuse case

While Kevin Ricks was tutoring a student in Fauquier County in 2008, he reached out to the teenager's friend Joel Kaiser via myspace.com and began asking personal questions about the boy. Elena Kaiser, Joel's mother, caught her son moments before his first scheduled meeting with Ricks, and then warned the principal of Osbourn High School. In this July 2010 interview, Kaiser talks about the incident.

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By Josh White and Jennifer Buske
Washington Post Staff Writers
Thursday, October 28, 2010; 3:42 PM

A former Osbourn High School teacher who has been linked to 30 years of sex abuse and who admitted to sexually molesting a 16-year-old Manassas boy earlier this year was sentenced Thursday to a year in the Prince William County jail.

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In the first criminal sex case against Kevin Ricks, 50, the sentence amounts to a formality: Federal agents and local police are preparing to charge Ricks with numerous additional crimes arising from a string of sex abuses that dates to at least 1979. Because of time Ricks already has served, he probably will be out of Prince William County custody by the end of the year.

Law enforcement officials say he then will be transferred into federal custody, and the extra time will allow them to prepare additional charges. He already is charged in federal court in Alexandria with child pornography counts and in North Carolina with sex abuse.

FBI agents and local police have linked Ricks, a career teacher and foreign exchange host, to sexual abuse of boys in North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, several western states and Japan. Federal and state prosecutors are lining up to file charges against Ricks, and law enforcement officials said they hope to put together prosecutions that would net decades of prison time.

Prince William County Circuit Court Judge William D. Hamblen sentenced Ricks to five years in prison with all but one year suspended, giving a harsher sentence than was outlined in Virginia's guidelines. Those guidelines called for a maximum of three months in jail for the one count of indecent liberties with a minor, mostly because Ricks had never been convicted of a previous sex offense.

Hamblen said those guidelines "do not adequately take into account the breach of trust in this case." Virginia judges deviate from the guidelines only about 20 percent of the time.

Ricks appeared in court wearing a light-blue collared shirt and was actively engaged in the 30-minute hearing, sometimes shaking his head and conferring with his lawyer.

He told Hamblen that he believes he has been "completely mischaracterized" by police, prosecutors and the media and said he does not fully comprehend why the sexual contact with the boy happened. Ricks also denied previously going after boys.

"I am not a pedophile and I never have been," Ricks told the court. "I am not a predator and I never have been. I have never stalked anyone."

An ongoing Washington Post investigation has identified a dozen of Ricks's victims or people who believed they were being targeted across three decades. In interviews, they and others who know him say Ricks plied boys with gifts, attention and alcohol while working as a teacher, camp counselor and foreign exchange host.

In several cases, Ricks gave the boys copious amounts of tequila and abused them while they were passed out drunk or asleep; some were unaware they were victimized until police or the FBI contacted them with evidence, The Post found.

Decades of Ricks's own journal entries - writings that describe in explicit detail his carefully plotted courtship of boys - have provided authorities with a road map. Paired with photographs and videos of the abuse that police found in Ricks's Federalsburg, Md., home, authorities believe they have numerous solid cases and are working to identify victims around the globe.

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