MARTINEZ -- A former Clayton middle school teacher was sentenced to nine years in prison Monday for sex crimes against a former student and for keeping child pornography on his home and work computers.

Walnut Creek resident Andrew Bruce Cottrell, 42, was fired by the Mt. Diablo Unified School District after he was arrested at work at Diablo View Middle School in Clayton in December.

Facing trial on 22 felony charges, Cottrell on Monday took a plea deal and pleaded guilty to four counts of unlawful sex with a minor, and one count each of oral copulation with a minor younger than 16, lewd acts on a child age 14 or 15, and possession of child pornography. The former math and science teacher did not make a statement in court.

The victim was 14 years old when Cottrell began sexually abusing her in February 2010, deputy district attorney Chad Mahalich said. The abuse went on for about 18 months. The girl's parents said their daughter now suffers from depression and struggles in school.

"What this man did to our daughter is despicable," the victim's mother wrote in a letter read in court by a victims' rights advocate. "He targeted her, groomed her, brainwashed her and manipulated her beginning at the age of 12.

"Between then and the discovery of her secret, the need for secrecy kept her from developing close relationships with her parents, her siblings and her friends," the mother wrote.


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Prosecutors have said that Cottrell was arrested soon after the crimes were reported. The Mt. Diablo school district provided counselors to students and staff members affected by Cottrell's arrest. Cottrell never made $1.1 million bail and was terminated by the school district while incarcerated.

An attorney for the school district said the California Commission on Teaching Credentialing was notified about Cottrell's arrest and termination.

Sentencing Judge Nancy Davis Stark on Monday ordered that Cottrell be registered as a sex offender for the rest of his life and have no contact with his victim. She told him that he could remain on parole for up to 20 years after his release.

Cottrell's attorney could not be immediately reached for comment.

Contact Malaika Fraley at 925-234-1684. Follow her at Twitter.com/malaikafraley.