A former Florida teacher has been sentenced to 12 years in prison for sexually abusing students — with a judge denying his request to be castrated instead of serving time.
Mark Lua, a former English teacher at Booker T. Washington High School in Pensacola, pleaded guilty last year to promoting a sexual performance by a child, unlawful sexual activity with minors and two counts of unlawful sexual activity with minors, according to The Associated Press.
Lua was sentenced Wednesday and told presiding Circuit Judge Thomas Dannheisser he would volunteer for chemical castration if it would spare him a prison sentence and allow him to raise his daughter.
“My actions were despicable,” Lua said, according to the AP. “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. 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.”
Chemical castration involves the repeated administration of drugs to reduce a person's sex drive and testosterone levels, according to The New York Times. A number of U.S. states have provisions for sex offenders to be chemically castrated under orders from a judge.
Dannheisser ignored the request and sentenced Lua to 12 years in prison, followed by 15 years of probation, according to local outlet the Pensacola News-Journal.
Prosecutors have said Lua preyed on multiple girls: he sexually assaulted an 18-year-old former student and a different underage student, and coerced another underage student to send him a sexually explicit video. The allegations against him resulted in five criminal cases based on the claims of four victims, according to the News-Journal.
Lua had previously admitted to using a fabricated Instagram account to solicit sex from juveniles, according to previous reports. He was fired from the school shortly after authorities charged him in 2019 with multiple sex crimes.
“He seemed to seek out girls that came from unstable or troubled homes," Assistant State Attorney Erin Ambrose said in court Wednesday. "He manipulated them, and he betrayed them because he was a teacher.”
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