Kullman sentenced to prison

SENTENCING: Alan Kullman stands before the judge during his sentencing trial. Kullman will serve of seven to 50 years after pleading guilty for first degree criminal sexual conduct. (Herald Review photo/Jim Crees)
SENTENCING: Alan Kullman stands before the judge during his sentencing trial. Kullman will serve of seven to 50 years after pleading guilty for first degree criminal sexual conduct. (Herald Review photo/Jim Crees)

Former Evart High School principal will serve 7-50 years for Criminal Sexual Conduct

REED CITY - As a teacher, high school principal and coach, Alan Kullman, tried to demonstrate to students the fundamentals learned through his signature program in the Evart Public Schools district - the Responsible Thinking Process. The lessons he taught, however, were not necessarily the lessons he practiced. Kullman was sentenced to serve 7-50 years in prison Friday, after pleading guilty to first-degree criminal sexual conduct. In practical terms, he could spend almost virtually the next decade behind bars. He also will be required to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life upon his eventual release. Kullman was arrested in June and charged with three counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct with a 14-year-old female student. That same month resigned from his position at Evart High School. Under a plea agreement he pleaded guilty to one first-degree charge and on Friday learned his sentence. Standing before Judge Ronald Nichols in Osceola County’s 49th Circuit Court, Kullman also came face-to-face with his own family and that of his victim as well. Judge Nichols asked Kullman if he had any comments to make and the former principal - now in a jail orange jumpsuit and hand and leg shackles - tried to convey his regret. “I want to apologize to those folks that I’ve hurt,” he said. He especially noted his apologies to the victim and her mother, his wife and children, his extended family, the Evart Public Schools district, and the Evart community. “I did wrong,” he said. He expected the punishment that would be meted out to him would be fitting, Kullman said, but that it would be little in comparison to the punishment he already had gone through knowing what he had done to his life, and the lives of all involved. Following his comments, the victim’s mother addressed the court and Kullman. She noted the devastation the former educator’s actions had brought upon her daughter and family. Making note of the trusted position Kullman had held, the mother decried the way he had used his authority to exploit a girl who came to him for comfort in a time of personal crisis. She asked the court to level the maximum sentence possible. “Selfish, so selfish,” she repeated as she turned to him. Osceola County Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Andrew Lapres reviewed the sentencing guidelines and asked the court to entertain the maximum sentence possible. He noted that the crime was not a “one time incident” but that by testimony of both Kullman and the victim, the sexual encounters had carried on for months. Kullman’s attorney Geoffrey K. Rettig asked for leniency. “This is a tragic case, especially for the victim and her family, but also for my client, his family and the community.,” he said, “My client’s main concern throughout this case was not putting anyone in the community through anything more than what he had already done. He (Kullman) has shown genuine remorse and guilt for what he has done.” In comments before sentencing, Judge Nichols said he disagreed with the defense attorney and stated he believed Kullman had not shown sufficient remorse for his crime. He also addressed the tone of the numerous letters of recommendation he had received from people offering words of support for Kullman. “Many of those are from teachers,” he said. “I was quite taken aback by these letters. I thought these letters were outrageous.” Nichols noted that in the letters of support filed with the court by various teachers, all spoke to the high character of the defendant, but none recognized the victim. “Not one person, not one person mentioned the victim,” he said with obvious ire. While Nichols was making his comments, a person in the audience interrupted the judge interjecting loudly that the comments in the letters were true and the victim herself was at fault for the chain of events leading to this trial. The woman was ejected from the court. Judge Nichols noted that in a final accounting, the victim was a 14-year old girl who had been manipulated by a man “ ...in a position of authority, and in a position of trust.”