Gabriel Macias, the former elementary school teacher convicted of sexually abusing and exploiting several of his students over the past decade was sentenced to life in prison Friday afternoon in Yuma County Superior Court.

It took a jury less than a day of deliberating in May to find Macias guilty of 17 of the 18 charges against him, including seven counts of furnishing harmful items to minors, four counts of molestation of a child, and one count of sexual assault.

He was also convicted of one count of sexual abuse, one count of child prostitution, one count of sexual conduct with a minor, one count of sexual exploitation of a minor and one count of aggravated assault with sexual motivation.

In sentencing Macias, Superior Court Judge John Nelson ordered that all the furnishing harmful items to a minor sentences, each of which were for four and a half years, and the aggravated assault with sexual motivation be served be concurrently -- meaning all at the same time.

Additionally, Judge Nelson also ordered that Macias receive slightly more than two years for the sexual abuse charge and that it was to run concurrent to the nine years and three months in prison he was ordered to serve for the sexual assault sentence.

Prior to sentencing, Judge Nelson told Macias that it was clear to him that he, as their teacher, had been grooming the victims and that was exactly how a child predator operated. He added that the court, nor the victims had any sympathy for him.

"There (were) enough victims to make it clear this was a pattern started some time ago and would probably have continued on had you not been caught," Nelson said. "Society views this type of conduct as nothing less than reprehensible. I honestly don't think you should be given the opportunity to ever be released."

Nelson also sentenced Macias to 17 years for each of the molestation of a child charges, 20 years for the child prostitution charge, and 17 years for the sexual exploitation charge, adding that all of which were to be served consecutively and that he would not receive any credit for any time previously served.

As for the life imprisonment sentence Macias received for sexual conduct with a minor, Nelson explained that he must serve at least 35 years of that sentence before being eligible for release.

"I don't know how many years are involved, but it is longer than your life expectancy," Nelson told Macias about the sentences he had just handed down.

One of Macias' victims also spoke prior to sentencing saying he will have to live every day of his life with the pain that Macias caused him.

"No matter how much time he serves, it really won't he enough," one of the victims said as he addressed the court. "He is a disgusting human being. I hate to say this, but I hope he rots."

Macias was arrested in August 2013 after a police investigation determined he had allegedly molested three boys between 2003 and 2006 while employed as a fifth-grade teacher at Harvest Preparatory Academy. The boys, all students of Macias’ at the time, were 10 to 13 years old.

He was teaching third grade at Desert Sonora Elementary School in Somerton during his initial arrested earlier in 2013. At that time, police said there may have been other victims in the case who had not yet come forward.

Since then, detectives with the Yuma Police Department investigating the case determined Macias had allegedly victimized five additional boys between the ages of 10 to 15 during that same time period. Three of the boys attended Harvest Preparatory Academy, and the other two boys were introduced to Macias outside of school.

All seven victims were allegedly abused at Macias’ residence in the 3400 block of South 9th Avenue and reportedly not during official school hours.

Macias was arrested on the new charges in April 2014 at the Yuma County Courthouse and was booked into the Yuma County Adult Detention Center on additional charges.

James Gilbert can be reached at jgilbert@yumasun.com or 539-6854. Find him on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/YSJamesGilbert or on Twitter @YSJamesGilbert.

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