DOWNEY, CALIF. USA -- Kip Richard Arnold at Downey (Calif.) Superior Court on December 17, 2012. Arnold got fours years and four months after pleading
DOWNEY, CALIF. USA -- Kip Richard Arnold at Downey (Calif.) Superior Court on December 17, 2012. Arnold got fours years and four months after pleading guilty in to molesting a student over a period of several years and evading police. Arnold fled from investigators who went to arrest him at his Lakewood home last summer and ended up leading them on a chase that ended when he crashed his car in Rolling Hills Estates. The former Los Angeles Unified School District teacher pleaded no contest last month to three of seven felony counts. Photo by Jeff Gritchen / Staff Photographer (Jeff Gritchen)

DOWNEY — A former South Gate teacher and Lakewood resident was sentenced to four years, four months in state prison Monday morning for the molestation of one of his middle school students.

Defendant Kip Richard Arnold appeared with his head bowed, handcuffed and shackled, and spoke very little during his sentencing.

Arnold, who most recently taught physical education at Southeast Middle School in South Gate, pleaded no contest last month to two felony counts - lewd acts on a child age 14 and evading arrest.

Though his attorney, Deputy Public Defender Jose Colon, had asked the court to consider probation for his client, who has no adult criminal record, Downey Superior Court Judge Debra Cole-Hall denied the request.

"We believe it would have been a better disposition had it been a non-media case," Colon said outside the courtroom. "He is satisfied. He wanted to resolve the case as soon as possible and he didn't want to put the alleged victim through the ordeal of a trial."

Outside court, Deputy District Attorney Heba Matta said she was also happy with the term as was the victim, who didn't speak at the sentencing Monday.

"He had originally faced seven years, so this is a great result," Matta said. "It's more than half of his exposure."

Arnold was arrested and charged last July after he led authorities on a high-speed chase from his home in Lakewood to Rolling Hills Estates, where he drove off an embankment and slammed into an office building.

Police and prosecutors said the former Los Angeles Unified School District employee had an ongoing sexual relationship with the then-14-year-old-girl between June and September of 2005. He was charged with seven felony counts, including three counts of lewd acts on a child who was 14 at the time, two counts of oral copulation on a person under the age of 16, one count of sexual penetration by a foreign object on a 14-year-old child and one count of evading an officer.

DOWNEY, CALIF. USA -- Kip Richard Arnold at Downey (Calif.) Superior Court on December 17, 2012. Arnold got fours years and four months after pleading
DOWNEY, CALIF. USA -- Kip Richard Arnold at Downey (Calif.) Superior Court on December 17, 2012. Arnold got fours years and four months after pleading guilty in to molesting a student over a period of several years and evading police. Arnold fled from investigators who went to arrest him at his Lakewood home last summer and ended up leading them on a chase that ended when he crashed his car in Rolling Hills Estates. The former Los Angeles Unified School District teacher pleaded no contest last month to three of seven felony counts. Photo by Jeff Gritchen / Staff Photographer (Jeff Gritchen)

It was Bell police officers that launched an investigation after the former student recently came forward with allegations, police and prosecutors said.

A police surveillance team was watching Arnold on July 10 when officers moved in to arrest the defendant, who fled. Before speeding away in his Ford F-150 pickup, Arnold allegedly told police he knew why they were there and would rather die than be arrested.

"He said he was suicidal," said Bell police Lt. Ty Henshaw. "He rolled up his windows and took off."

Prior to his arrest, Arnold taught for the past eight years at L.A. Unified, including previous assignments at Nimitz Middle School, Gage Middle School and Orchard Academies, school officials said.

In addition to his prison term, he will be required to pay the victim restitution, to cover the cost of her counseling, and to register as a sex offender for life, the prosecutor said.

tracy.manzer@presstelegram.com, 562-714-2150, twitter.com/tmanzer