3 YEARS BEHIND BARS

Pleas from ex-Yukon teacher, family can’t keep her out of prison

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Hunter Joanne Day

By Mindy Ragan Wood
Staff Writer

EL RENO – The impassioned pleas from a former Yukon High School teacher’s family could not keep her out of prison.

Canadian County District Judge Paul Hesse sentenced Hunter Day, 23, of Ardmore, to 10 years with three years behind bars and seven years of supervised probation for second-degree rape.

She received the same sentence for soliciting sexual contact by use of technology. The two sentences will run concurrent.

Day entered a blind guilty plea before Judge Hesse instead of accepting a plea agreement with the Canadian County District Attorney’s office.

Day admitted to Canadian County Sheriff Investigators to having sex with a 16-year-old student in her science class in November 2017.

The disgraced teacher entered the court room last Friday and sobbed quietly as she looked to more than two dozen family and friends who were there to support her.

Following victim impact statements from the student’s family, Day’s father-in-law Rod Day and her husband Tyler Day spoke in her defense.

Rod Day said he has known his son’s wife since the two were in school.

The couple met when she was in eighth grade and his son was a high school freshman.

They were exclusive high school sweethearts who married five years ago and went to college together. He said his daughter-in-law had never been accused of doing anything “unlawful” in her life.

“Hunter has a wonderful heart,” he said through tears. “This is so unlike anything she would ever do.”

Tyler Day described a troubled marriage and the stress of his wife entering a career she was not ready to take on as an emergency certified teacher at Yukon High School.

Day said he and his wife never had any “kind of issue of this nature” before.

“When I heard the news,” he said, “I knew from day one that this was not my wife. That the decision that was made was not my wife. I don’t want to sit here and give her any excuse, but she has been like a servant to me. I know that everyone only sees one side of her right now, what’s on the news and the media, but she has served me as a wife should through all these years.”

Although his wife wanted to take a year off from university and then enter medical school, Day said it was he who convinced his wife to teach at YHS so he could coach football.

“I think that she took this job to serve me, once again, to make me happy so I could go and do something that I wanted. During this time I feel all my time was wrapped around coaching,” he said.

Hunter Day’s family and friends gather for a prayer before the ex-Yukon teacher’s sentencing hearing last Friday. (Photo by Mindy Ragan Wood)

Tyler Day described his wife as completely repentant.

“She’s cried to me many times, and many times she’s gotten on her knees before God and not only that she’s went before our church family. We have dug back into our home church and she’s expressed remorse because it’s hard not to go anywhere now without there being an elephant in the room. That was something she felt led to do. To show our family, ‘look it’s out there. I claim full responsibility. I’m sorry for what I did.’”

The fallen teacher took the stand last. Through tears and sniffles, she described her state of mind at the time.

“I kind of feel like I was failing at life,” she said. “I didn’t do what I was thinking I was supposed to do. When we went to Yukon we thought it was going to be perfect, because we had grown-up jobs for the first time and we were going to get to be together all the time.”
Hunter Day said she had placed her husband above God in her life, that she “idolized Tyler,” and “everything in my life had always been about him.”

Her testimony relied on the story of a neglected wife.

“I did feel unsupported at times you know,” she said as she cried. “I felt like I was the one always encouraging and supporting and I wasn’t getting a whole lot of that back. Connor (the student) was very supportive and nice and showed interest,” she testified.

Day ended her testimony with an apology to the family. She spoke of her own story of becoming a mother.

“I couldn’t imagine the consequences for his family…but then three months ago God gave me a little boy and I really felt for the first time what you must have felt after my actions,” she said. “Hearing everything that’s happened since, it’s almost unbearable. I am truly so sorry for all the pain that I’ve caused to your family. It was never my intention and I’ve been praying for you guys, that you would make it through this.”

Canadian County Assistant District Attorney Erika Gillock questioned Day’s perspective.

“So, you were overwhelmed and you weren’t appreciated, so you kind of insinuated that somehow the victim in this case is you,” Gillock said.

Day denied that she was the victim.

“I think I made an error in judgement,” she said. “And that was because of all of the other stuff.”

Gillock asked Day what she believed her punishment should be. Day answered that she should not have to go to prison.

“My background check is going to say felon,” Day said and added that it would follow her “everywhere I go,” in addition to having to register as a sex offender.

Gillock suggested to Judge Hesse that Day serve five years in prison and 10 years of supervised probation for the second-degree rape charge and five years on probation for using technology to solicit sexual contact.

Gillock restated Day’s deliberate scheme to seduce her student.

“She began to privately tutor the victim,” the prosecutor said. “She began to write notes to get him out of class so they could spend time together. She dressed provocatively for dress up days. Miss Day gave him her number so they could text.”

However, part of the pre-sentence report prepared by the Department of Corrections shows the boy asked for Day’s telephone number during one of the tutoring sessions.

PSYCHO-SEXUAL EVALUATION

Gillock said the psycho-sexual evaluation showed Day was attracted to minors of that age range subconsciously and scored below average in possessing empathy toward others who are affected by her actions. She also argued that while the victim was in a treatment center out of state for 18 months that Day had been immediately bonded out of prison living free.
Day’s attorney Tommy Adler said Gillock mischaracterized the evaluation and said the psychologist did not recommend sex offender treatment for Day, even though it is required by law. He refuted the idea that she had less empathy for others or hadn’t taken responsibility for her actions.

Hunter Joanne Day sits on her classroom desk while employed as a teacher at Yukon High School. Day pleaded guilty to two felonies in connection with a sexual relationship she had with a student. (File photo)

“We’re here today because she has pled guilty and accepted responsibility from the beginning,” Adler pointed out. “The first thing she did was write the victim’s family an apology letter.”

Adler argued that other factors contributed to Day’s decision to pursue her student for sex such as the “six-year” age gap between the two.

“Putting 22-year-old teachers like Hunter Day into classrooms with juveniles that are 16 and 18 is putting peers in positions of authority over each other that would otherwise be peers over one another,” Adler said.

He pleaded with the judge to consider that Day was a working wife and mother and had become a model citizen.

THE SENTENCE

Judge Hesse said the support for Day in the courtroom said “a lot about you and it says even more about them.”

“It is remarkable to me that you still enjoy that kind of support,” Hesse said. “I hope you also know that you have tarnished the teaching profession by your shameful actions, but that’s the least harm you have caused by your actions.”

Hesse said Day had ruined her life and her former student’s life.

“You have caused unnecessary and harmful attention to a 16-year-old and caused immeasurable emotional harm to both the victim and his family,” he said.

Hesse told Day she used a “vulnerable student” for her own sexual pleasure as something “new and exciting,” but that the victim did not understand that and believed her to be his “emotional partner.”

In the end, those who spoke in her defense was not enough to keep her from prison. Day’s last words in the court were for her husband as she was being escorted from the room, “I love you,” she said.