Corona, CA: Teacher's aide who sought sex with girl gets probation

A former Corona-Norco Unified School District teacher's aide who sought to have sexual relations with a teenage girl he met on was sentenced today to three years probation and nearly six months in a work-release program.

Paul Benjamin Records, 28, was convicted Feb. 8 of attempted lewd or lascivious acts on a child. He was also charged with communicating with a minor with the intent to solicit sex, but jurors deadlocked on that count, leading Riverside County Superior Court Judge Michael Donner to dismiss it.

After considering a probation officer's pre-sentencing report and letters of support from Records' family, Donner decided to impose probation and a 180-day jail sentence. However, the judge granted the defendant the option of participating in a labor program managed by the sheriff's department, rather than serving time behind bars.

Records was a substitute class aide at the time of his arrest in July 2009. The Lake Matthews man came to the attention of Corona police after the parents of a 15-year-old girl -- referred to in court papers as "Brittany" -- alleged the defendant had been carrying on an inappropriate relationship with her via the Internet and telephone.

Deputy District Attorney Michael Romney told jurors that Records persuaded the teen to send him lingerie and topless pictures of herself and encouraged her to masturbate, instructing her on "where to put her hands and fingers."

The defendant sent explicit photos of himself to the teen in exchange for the nude ones of her, according to the prosecutor.

"This case is exactly how kids end up with nude photos in cyberspace," Romney said.

According to Romney, Records also solicited explicit photos from five other girls, one of whom sent a picture of herself masturbating.

Defense attorney Frank Peasley acknowledged his client's behavior was "downright disgusting" at times, but argued most of the violations alleged by the prosecution did not occur.

According to the attorney, Records told the girl up-front that he was in his 20s and that their relationship could not go beyond friendship.

Peasley said Records had several opportunities to meet Brittany in person to complete the attempted lewd acts alleged, but he consistently turned down the invitations.

"He (was) foolin' around on the Internet," the attorney told jurors.

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