The former Fort Pierce Westwood High School English teacher had been found guilty of 16 counts of inappropriately touching several female students.
LAURIE BLANDFORD/TREASURE COAST NEWSPAPERS
ST. LUCIE COUNTY — Patricia Scaringi is happy her daughter’s former teacher won’t be able to inappropriately touch another student again.
“He got exactly what he deserved,” she said after Dan Allen Hussan, 71, was sentenced Monday morning to life in prison. “Justice prevailed.”
Scaringi and others spoke during Hussan’s hour-long sentencing at the St. Lucie County Courthouse before Circuit Judge James W. McCann imposed a life sentence. Hussan, who lived in Vero Beach, had been convicted July 28 by jury trial of seven charges of lewd conduct with a victim under age 18 and nine counts of lewd molestation with a victim age 12 to 16.
Scaringi’s daughter was one of eight victims who were freshmen between ages 13 and 15 at Westwood’s science-based magnet school, Marine and Oceanographic Academy.
She said her daughter now is in therapy and on medication and has learned not to trust people because of Hussan, whom she called a pedophile and a monster.
“My daughter is scarred for life,” Scaringi said. “His family is ruined, but all our families are ruined, as well. All these girls — their lives will never be the same.”
Before Hussan was sentenced, one parent spoke in his defense. Tamara Herb, whose daughter was his student, said the fact that Hussan is a close talker and gets into people’s personal space when talking can be misconstrued as intimate or sexual. She said he may have put his hand on a student’s leg in a reassuring way.
“He’s not a pervert,” Herb said. “I never had any qualms about my daughter being alone with him.”
Hussan’s daughter, Lisa, told the court her father never exhibited any inappropriate behavior toward her or her sister.
“My dad has a heart of gold,” said Lisa Hussan. “My dad also loves children (and) his family.”
Hussan’s wife, Lynda, said prison time would continue to be a financial hardship for her, draining their savings and retirement. She read examples of students, parents and faculty who considered Hussan an inspirational teacher.
“He respected his students and treated them fairly,” said Lynda Hussan. “He strove for excellence and expected the same in return.”
Hussan, dressed in an orange jumpsuit, and his wife kissed each other on the cheek after she read her statement.
He then asked the court to show him mercy.
“This has been a nightmare,” Hussan said. “I am not guilty of these charges.”
Hussan and other witnesses for the defense claimed the allegations were based on a revenge plot after he disciplined a girl in his class.
After the sentencing, his attorney, Karen Tufte, said she plans to file an appeal this week. She said his family was devastated by the life sentence.
“It’s a shame that all the good he has done has now been erased by this one timeframe — this one set of allegations,” Tufte said. “It’s obviously not the legacy he hoped to leave.”
Assistant State Attorney Anastasia Norman, who prosecuted the case, said the evidence of eight victims and a photograph showed the allegations weren’t based on a revenge plot, and the jury agreed.
“He showed to be very predatory in nature,” Norman said. “This has been going on for years. We had girls who had recently had him as a teacher (and) we had girls who had had him years before who all told the same story of how he was acting with the touching and the comments.”
Norman said she and Hussan’s victims were satisfied with the outcome.
“It’s been a long road since three years ago,” Norman said, “but we had a great verdict and a great sentence.”