A jury trial came to a sudden halt Wednesday when former Boyd High School assistant coach and gym teacher Russell “Rusty” Rushing chose to make a plea agreement with the district attorney’s office.
Rushing, 36, received a sentence of six months in state jail after pleading guilty to one count of attempted online solicitation of a child.
The victim, a 15-year-old high school freshman at the time, was one of his students. In testimony Tuesday, the victim said Rushing sent her text messages asking if he could “take her virginity” and he wanted to “come and get her.”
The two also communicated via messages on Facebook.
The texts in question were sent during the Christmas break in December 2010. School officials weren’t notified of the offense until the end of March 2011, after another student complained about Rushing making inappropriate suggestions to her as well.
Rushing was immediately placed on administrative leave, and the information was turned over to the Boyd Police Department. Shortly after that, Rushing resigned from Boyd ISD.
Boyd police investigators, posing as the victim, contacted Rushing via Facebook. They asked if he still wanted to “take her virginity.” He replied “That’s up to you.”
The Blackberry phone used by the victim was turned over to the U.S. Secret Service. Even though the victim had deleted every message made between herself and Rushing, federal investigators analyzed the phone and were able to retrieve about 37 of them. However, other evidence presented by the defense actually showed the two had sent and received more than 200 messages throughout the month of December.
While on the stand, the young victim denied ever sending or receiving these additional texts, which went to a second cell phone owned by Rushing.
In some of the retrieved messages, Rushing told the victim “there is no proof of anything” and “they will say anything to get you to tell on me. Deny it all,” and “I may go to jail for a long time if you ever admit it.”
The jury trial started Tuesday with Rushing being charged with two felonies for online solicitation. It ended early Wednesday when he pled guilty to one.
“We reached a resolution during the trial,” said Jay Lapham, assistant district attorney.
The original charges carried a possible sentence of two years’ probation to 10 years in prison for each.
Lapham was confident getting a felony conviction in the case would keep the defendant from getting another job teaching children.
“Hopefully it’s a deterrent from any other teachers attempting to solicit their students online or any other way, period,” Lapham said. “School is a place that is supposed to keep kids safe from harm. When a teacher violates that trust it really damages the system.
“A felony conviction for attempted online solicitation of a minor should be a good reason to keep any school district from hiring Mr. Rushing as a teacher or coach ever again.”
Rushing, a standout relief pitcher for Oklahoma State University, helped the Cowboys make it to the 1999 College World Series. He taught and coached at Bastrop High School before accepting the position at Boyd.