Naples, Florida: Collier County Circuit Court Judge Fred Hardt sentenced the former Band Director of Gulf Coast High School, Robert Hamberg (53), to 30 years in prison for having sex with a freshman teenage girl (15) in 2009. The jury convicted Hamberg with an eight-count lewd and lascivious sexual battery after a four-day trial in April. Hamberg and the girl were involved during February to May 2009. Judge Hardt sentenced 10 years for counts 1-4, alleging oral sex and digital penetration in a school dressing room; 10 years for counts 5-6, alleging acts at Hamberg’s home; and 10 years for count 7, alleging brief intercourse at his home. Another 15 years was added for sex offender probation after the 30-year sentence. Hamberg could have received a minimum penalty of 60 years and maximum of life.
As the wife of Hamberg, Diane Hamberg, listened in the sentencing on Thursday, the teenager’s mother read a victim impact statement referring to Hamberg:
“He has had power over this family, creating sadness, anger and fear for the past two years,” the mother said. “We’re no longer under that power.”
The father of the teenager told the judge:
that Gulf Coast High “utterly failed to supervise” Hamberg, and he said his daughter’s social life was now a fragment of its former self. The teenager is educated through online schooling accessed by a home computer, he said.
The defense attorney of Hamberg, Jerry Berry, had moved for a new trial, pointing to Hardt’s error to allow cross-examination on Hamberg’s tenure at Norcross High, Georgia, in 1988. Back then, Hamberg had a relationship with another student, now his wife, Diane Hamberg. Hardt granted examination on Hamberg’s claim:
that he was “naive” to the idea that a close relationship with a student could be miscontrued.
Hamberg plans to appeal.