The Justice Files: Former school teacher seeks release from prison

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SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 Utah) – He claimed to be helping not hurting.

It was Scott McMurray’s attempt to justify the sex abuse he committed on his victims.

The former elementary teacher explained his actions during a recent parole hearing.
McMurray is serving up to thirty years in prison for multiple counts of sex abuse and sodomy towards his four young victims. After seven years in prison, he became eligible for parole.

“From 2008 to 2013 you groomed, lured, and sexually masturbated four boys,” said his hearing officer at the outset of his parole hearing.

None of his victims were students. He was a veteran teacher at Heritage Elementary in Ogden. But the hearing officer said he was known by the school to make lewd comments. He was fired after charges were filed.

“I really wasn’t trying to hurt anybody,” McMurray told the hearing officer. “I was trying to help, I thought. But obviously, I was flawed in my thinking and I know that now. And I changed my life in that regard.”

McMurray was finally arrested and charged with multiple counts of sex abuse and sodomy after one of his victims came forward. But it wasn’t until the victim turned 19-years old and was serving an LDS church mission that he revealed his secret to a church leader. The victim appeared at McMurray’s parole hearing to oppose his release.

“We’re here to see if Scott is really a different person,” said the young man. “I do not think he should be able to get out. I think he should serve his entire sentence. What he did to my family and me is unforgivable. I mean he was part of the church.”

At the time of his crime, he admitted that his sense of denial allowed him to continue molesting his victims. But he said the past seven years in prison has given him an understanding of the pain he caused.

“I’m sorry,” he said. “I didn’t realize at the time that I was causing that much trouble and people want me to be here for the rest of my life. I don’t understand that.”

McMurray said at the time he was having medical issues. He told the hearing officer he was diagnosed with thyroid cancer in 2012. He said he underwent surgery to remove the cancer but was taking medication and became depressed and attempted suicide. 

But the hearing officer reminded him that he was sexually molesting his young victims, years before his bout with cancer. 

“I do not think he will ever be this man that he says he is,” said his victim. “I think he should stay in there for the rest of his life.”

The hearing officer didn’t give McMurray much hope that he would soon be released. He has not undergone sex offender treatment. In addition, the hearing officer said McMurray has not served the minimum amount of time recommended by the sentencing judge. 

She said the board of pardons uses that as a guideline to determine if a person should remain in prison or be set free.

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