Former Nevada Schoolteacher Gets 22 Years In Student Sex Case

A judge cited a former southern Nevada elementary school teacher's "predatory nature toward young girls," and sentenced him to 22 years to life in state prison for engaging in lewd behavior with three female students.

The sentence imposed Thursday by Clark County District Court Judge Jackie Glass was less than the 30 years to life that prosecutors sought.

But it means that Mark Zana, 40, will be 62 before he can be considered for parole. If released, Zana also would face lifetime supervision.

"I think that Mr. Zana is in complete denial of the fact that he has a predatory nature toward young girls," the judge said.

Jurors found Zana guilty in August of three felony counts of lewdness with a minor, six felony counts of possession of child pornography, and open and gross lewdness with a minor, a gross misdemeanor.

The jury acquitted Zana of charges involving three girls.

The case stemmed from allegations Zana, who taught from 1996 to 2005 at two elementary schools in Henderson, touched the breasts of two students, had images of child pornography on personal computers
at home and urged a female student to reach into his pockets to get candy.

One girl, now 15, told the judge Thursday that Zana ruined her trust in men.

She also thanked the other girls for reporting Zana's conduct to authorities.

The girl was 11 when Zana, a fifth-grade teacher, twice reached in her shirt.

The girl's mother called her daughter a victim and a victor for helping to stop Zana.

Zana declined to speak at his sentencing hearing.

His lawyer, Tom Pitaro, said later that Zana planned to appeal his conviction and sentence.

The judge rejected results of a psycho-sexual evaluation that concluded that Zana was unlikely to commit the same offenses.

Glass cited allegations of inappropriate contact between Zana and young girls going back 15 years.

Prosecutor Tom Carroll said the evaluator did not know that Zana had been accused in 1992 of molesting four girls in Pennsylvania, and that in 1998, a second-grader in southern Nevada claimed Zana told her to reach into his pocket to get candy.

Carroll said records from both incidents had been sealed until jurors in the recent case heard testimony about them.

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