Former teacher Paul Alphonse Kreutzer smiled at his sobbing victims Tuesday after he was sentenced to prison for molesting 10 girls in the San Fernando Valley between 1968 and 1996.
Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Barry A. Taylor ordered Kreutzer, 63, to serve 16 years in state prison plus nine consecutive terms of one year to life. The unusual sentence means that Kreutzer will not be eligible for parole for 19 years.
Kreutzer pleaded no contest last month to 15 counts of lewd conduct with a child under 14.
Six of his victims urged Taylor to impose a lengthy prison term.
"He is a predator, and if he is ever set free, God help little girls and their families, because he will never stop" molesting children, sobbed one of the victims in the Van Nuys court.
She is one of three sisters who say Kreutzer molested them when they were students at Our Lady of Peace School in North Hills.
The sisters and other victims spoke to authorities after Kreutzer was arrested by the FBI in March 2000 for downloading child pornography onto his computer. He pleaded guilty in federal court last year on the child pornography charge and was sentenced to 30 months in federal prison.
Kreutzer, who was teaching at Liggett Elementary School in Panorama City at this time of his arrest, was fired by the Los Angeles Unified School District after his guilty plea.
On Tuesday, Kreutzer, a former president of the Santa Clarita Historical Society, asked forgiveness for the pain he caused his victims.
"I express sorrow for any such pain I have caused," he said in a brief statement to the court.
Kreutzer turned his chair to look directly at each of the women who testified against him. Most are now in their 30s.
Another one of the three sisters was 10 when she said she told school officials about her ongoing sexual relationship with Kreutzer.
She testified last year at his preliminary hearing that the principal at Our Lady of Peace, a nun, spanked and derided her until she said she was lying.
Despite dramatic testimony, Kreutzer has maintained a strong core of support among friends near his Canyon Country home. Two women testified on his behalf.
"I cannot tie the Paul that I know with the things that have been said about him. Love you, Paul," one said.
But their words were overshadowed by the tears and testimony of his victims. Mary Anne Seifried met Kreutzer in 1968 at a Saturday folk dance class he organized at Holy Redeemer Catholic Church in Montrose.
In court, Seifried, who agreed to the publication of her name, said she believes that Kreutzer abused more girls over the years than authorities have identified.
She said she was concerned about two victims, sisters who came to the United States from Vietnam with their family in 1975.
They met Kreutzer through Holy Redeemer Church and moved into his home to learn to speak English. They testified that they took turns sleeping in the bed of the man they called "Daddy."
After the sentencing, Seifried hugged one of the Vietnamese women who sat alone in the back of the courtroom crying.
Deputy Los Angeles County Dist. Atty. Andrea Thompson called this a case about a teacher's breach of trust, a theme that resonated throughout the hearing.
Most of the victims said Kreutzer befriended their unsuspecting parents to gain unlimited access to their young daughters.
"He took advantage of the trust he had built," Thompson said.
The third of the three sisters said her parents trusted Kreutzer with her and her siblings.
"We were supposed to trust our elders," she told the judge. "How am I supposed to teach my daughter to trust her elders?"