A 44-year-old Palm Springs High School teacher who sexually assaulted two boys and tried to seduce another with video games is slated to be sentenced Thursday to 44 years in state prison.
A Banning jury in July convicted Ronald Steven Bishop of 43 sex crime-related offenses, which occurred in 2012. Riverside County Superior Court Judge Samuel Diaz is expected to impose the sentence required by law.
The felonies for which Bishop was found guilty include 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. He was also convicted of annoying a child under 18 years old -- a misdemeanor.
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According to the District Attorney's Office, the defendant's offenses 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 child 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, authorities said.
Prosecutors allege that the educator sent explicit pictures 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 not released, testified that Bishop had engaged in sex acts with them, including when they were under the influence and not aware of what was happening, according to the prosecution.
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 purportedly showed the defendant molesting one of the victims, according to the District Attorney's Office.
Bishop was arrested in the high school parking lot on Baristo Road in January 2013. He was placed on unpaid administrative leave, according to the Palm Springs Unified School District. He's expected to be formally dismissed from his position after Thursday's hearing.
Bishop taught language arts at Palm Springs High between 2006 and 2013, and at Nellie N. Coffman Middle School in Cathedral City from 2004 to 2006. He's being held without bail at the Smith Correctional Facility in Banning.