BANNING, Calif. - A former Palm Springs High School teacher who sexually assaulted two boys and tried to seduce another with games and other favors has been sentenced to nearly 45 years in state prison. Ronald Steven Bishop, 44, was convicted last month of 43 sex-related offenses that occurred in 2012.
A Banning jury in July convicted Ronald Steven Bishop of 43 sex-related offenses, including sodomy of a minor, sexual penetration with a foreign object, performing sex acts on an unconscious victim, lewd acts on a child under 15 years old and contacting a minor with the intent to commit a sexual offense.
Riverside County Superior Court Judge Samuel Diaz handed down the 44-year, eight-month sentence for the ex-educator, who was also convicted of a misdemeanor count of annoying a child under 18 years old.
According to the District Attorney's Office, the defendant's 2012 crimes came to light in early 2013, after a former student revealed that Bishop had been pursuing him with frequent online communications, text messages and offers of assistance.
The boy, whose identity was not disclosed, told investigators that he became close to the English teacher after his parents initiated divorce proceedings.
The defendant expressed an interest in helping the youth cope with the family split, leading to regular conversations via instant messaging and texts, which numbered in the thousands, according to police.
Bishop bought the boy a PlayStation game and ferried him to different locations when the victim had no other means of transportation. Prosecutors said the educator sent explicit photos and raised the topic of masturbation with the teenager, who indicated that he and the defendant were not intimate.
However, two other boys, whose identities also were withheld, testified that Bishop had engaged in sex acts with them, including when they were under the influence and not aware of what was happening.
After serving a search warrant at Bishop's Indio residence, investigators seized more than 150 VHS tapes and three-dozen DVDs containing child and adult pornography, police said. One tape showed the defendant molesting one of the victims, according to the District Attorney's Office.
Bishop, who was arrested in the high school parking lot on Baristo Road in January 2013 and placed on unpaid administrative leave, taught language arts at Palm Springs High between 2006 and 2013. He worked at Nellie N. Coffman Middle School in Cathedral City from 2004 to 2006.