By Bobby Bordelon
Michael Doolin faces four years incarceration, five years probation, and more requirements after being sentenced by Greenbrier County Circuit Court Judge Jennifer Dent on Tuesday, March 29. Doolin previously pled guilty to distribution and display to a minor of obscene matter and felony offense of use of obscene matter to attempt to seduce a minor.
Content warning – this story contains information about a criminal offense of a sexual nature
In February 2020, Doolin was indicted on four counts of sexual abuse by a person in a position of trust. Doolin, then a 27-year-old teacher with the Lewisburg Baptist Academy, engaged with the 17-year-old victim in this case. However, as part of the plea agreement, the prosecution moved to drop these charges and introduced two alternate felony charges.
Doolin pled guilty to two counts brought in the information filed, and the four charges brought by the February grand jury indictments were dismissed.
The Tuesday sentencing hearing for this plea deal saw several individuals speak, including John Fillmore, a relative of the then 17-year-old victim in the case.
“[The victim] has experienced loneliness, alienation, and deep anguish due to Michael’s actions,” said Fillmore. “His lies of self preservation continue to divide our once close knit family, our once close knit church, our once close knit school. He has shamed his family, our family, the name of our lord, and we are not here today to seek revenge, but rather to seek justice, forgiveness, and the grace of god to turn the page on this unfortunate chapter in [the victim’s] life. We trust you and we pray for justice in this matter.”
Prosecuting Attorney Patrick Via emphasized that although a psychological evaluation in the sentencing report did not indicate a high risk of Doolin reoffending, a non-probation sentence would be in order in this case.
“I do think that, from the state’s perspective, it’s very important that an appropriate disposition of this be made, given the nature of the offense,” Via said. “Doolin has expressed it, that it is an extraordinary violation of trust. This was no stranger interaction – the families knew one another for a considerable period of time. … That trust was abused in a way that community, our society, and our laws deem to be strictly forbidden. That requires substantial punitive action by this court. … In fact, so serious, that it is the position of the state that the only disposition for this matter is for Mr. Doolin to be sentenced for a determinate sentence of five years for each count and that those sentences be ordered to run consecutively.”
Fillmore, while looking to forgive and heal his community, also emphasized the severity of the offense.
“When you trust another individual with your child and other children that you know and love, it’s the ultimate responsibility,” Fillmore said. “Michael knowingly, willingly betrayed that trust, causing pain and suffering to [the victim] and so many others along the way. … Taking advantage of a young, teenage girl, using his position as a family member, a schoolteacher, a basketball coach, a school chaperon, to groom, seduce, and eventually assault [the victim] is the ultimate act of betrayal. Fleeing the state with total disregard for the consequences of his actions, leaving us here the past  months to deal with all of the lies that he had told. Upon open knowledge of his selfish act, he continued to blame her for his actions. Up to this point he has taken no responsibility for his own actions.”
Before sentencing, Dent also turned to the psychological evaluation.
“In your account of the crime, in reference to the impact on others, you indicate that there was a lot of hurt,” said Dent. “ … After reviewing everything, what the court comes away with is that you acknowledge the relationship with the victim, but I’m not sure, and it doesn’t appear to me, that you have acknowledged the criminal conduct. You’re here not because you had an affair, you’re here because of the criminal conduct that you committed, which are the two felonies to which you plead, which involve the distribution and use of obscene matter to seduce a minor. That’s why you’re here and it is the seriousness of that offense that you fail to recognize, and to simply grant you probation would be to depreciate the wrongfulness of that conduct.”
Doolin was sentenced to a determinate period of four years incarceration for the distribution charge and two years for second charge, to be served consecutively. The second sentence was then suspended, with Dent placing Doolin on five years of probation, a $5,000 fine, and court fees.
As a result, Doolin will serve four years, then be on probation for five, during which he must undergo an outpatient sex offender treatment program, followed by other requirements, such as enrollment on the sexual offender registry, forbidden contact with the victim and their family, and a ban on being alone with underage girls.
During the hearing, both Doolin and his father both spoke on his behalf ahead of sentencing.
“First of all, I would just like to apologize to the victim and [their] family,” Doolin said. “I understand the severity of what I’ve caused for their family. I take full responsibility for my actions. I took advantage of my position and my age. Everything in the situation is on me and I just want them to know I’m sorry from the bottom of my heart and I hope they know [that] at some point in their life because I am sorry.”