By Neal Putnam
Robert Buechner, 70, a former teacher’s aide at Ramona High School, was sentenced Nov. 7 to four years and four months in state prison after he pleaded guilty to molesting a teen-age boy in Chula Vista.
Buechner had been free on $250,000 bond, but the Ramona man was remanded into custody at the conclusion of his sentencing by Chula Vista Superior Court Judge Kathleen Lewis.
His attorney, Ryan Tegnelia, asked the judge for a one year term while Deputy District Attorney Karra Reedy sought the sentence he received. Lewis gave him credit for 13 days previously spent in jail and fined him $3,064.
Lewis said the “aggravating factors outweighed the mitigating factors,” such as his age and lack of a prior record. Buechner resigned his job at Ramona High School just before his arrest in March. The case doesn’t affect any students in Ramona.
A relative of the victim lives in Ramona, and Buechner met the 14-year-old boy through the relative, according to his probation report.
The boy’s father had died when he was 8 years old and his mother was committed to a mental hospital because she suffered from schizophrenia. The boy had been placed in foster care and had been molested before by others, according to the report.
“This was a very vulnerable victim. This was a 14-year-old damaged boy in foster care,” said Reedy. “He knew better. The defendant…abused a position of trust.”
Reedy said Buechner told a probation officer “I don’t blame him at all” regarding the victim’s accusation, but she said such a comment doesn’t show remorse.
Lewis said Buechner molested him on field trips and in unspecified rooms in Chula Vista where the boy was living. The judge said Buechner showed “lack of insight into his devious behavior.”
“He will have to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life,” said Lewis.
The judge noted that Buechner “acknowledged wrongdoing” early in his case by pleading guilty, and the boy, now 15, did not have to testify. Buechner wrote a letter of apology to the boy’s relatives.
“Mr. Buechner has been a law-abiding citizen for a very long time,” said his attorney.
Tegnelia said Buechner has performed community service and had “an unbroken work record.” He said no such accusation ever occurred during his 30 years in education.
Buechner pleaded guilty in June to committing three counts of oral copulation and lewd conduct with a minor. Probation was ruled out as part of the plea agreement.
Buechner taught catechism classes at the Immaculate Heart of Mary parish in Ramona and has been married for over 40 years with adult children, according to the report. He came to court with two relatives.