A Florida teacher who pleaded guilty to multiple sex crimes against students had a strange request for the judge sentencing him this week: He begged to be castrated instead of being tossed in the hoosegow.
What's that now?
Mark Lua, a 32-year-old former English teacher at Booker T. Washington High School in Pensacola, pleaded guilty in October to sex-related crimes against former students. His guilty plea included multiple charges of unlawful sexual activity with minors and promoting a sexual performance by a child, the Pensacola News Journal reported.
According to the paper, Lua was arrested on three separate occasions last year. He was alleged to have had sex with an underage student, sexually assaulted an 18-year-old former student, and coerced a student into shooting an inappropriate video and sending it to him.
At his sentencing hearing Wednesday, Lua begged Judge Thomas Dannheisser not to throw the book at him and made a highly unusual request.
After admitting he deserved punishment for his "despicable" actions, the disgraced teacher implored the judge to have him chemically castrated — and even physically castrated — rather than send him to prison in order for him to be able to raise his daughter.
"My actions were despicable to say the least. I do believe that punishment is necessary, and I am requesting chemical castration not only as a punishment but as an act of solidarity to show how sorry I am for everything," he said, the News Journal reported. "If your honor is so inclined, I am even willing to undergo physical castration if that way I can stay home and raise my daughter."
The newspaper revealed that Assistant State Attorney Erin Ambrose made it clear to the judge that Lua was targeting vulnerable girls.
"He seemed to seek out girls that came from unstable or troubled homes," she said. "He manipulated them, and he betrayed them because he was a teacher."
According the paper, Judge Dannheisser didn't respond to Lua's strange request and sentenced him to 12 years in state prison followed by 15 years of probation.
WEAR-TV reported that though castration is a lawful punishment in Florida, Lua's crimes did not qualify:
The state attorney's office says under the law, chemical castration is a lawful option for sexual battery —but one that rarely is ever handed down. It's not something that could have been done in Lua's case though.
"In this case, Mark Lua did not qualify for physical or chemical castration because of the nature of the charges," State Attorney Bill Eddins said. "His charges were having sex with a minor, so it was not a sexual battery charge. So he did not qualify. Even if he had, we would have objected."
The News Journal said that Lua also told the judge that he suffered from a genetic disorder that caused painful, tumorous growths on his skin and that he had been suffering from debilitating panic attacks from the disease at the time of his crimes.
Ambrose wasn't having it and said during the sentencing hearing, "This condition did not seem to debilitate him while he was trolling the halls, looking for students to have sex with."