Greg Sedlacek sat slumped in a Douglas County courtroom Tuesday, his head bowed, his brow wrinkled, his voice wavering.

As a prosecutor relayed what the former Omaha Public Schools teacher did to six students, ages 6 and 7, it wasn’t hard to picture Sedlacek, 31, seated in a similar position last fall. At his desk in the classroom. Or on the end of a slide. A child in his lap. His hand up a skirt.

But Tuesday, his hands were cuffed — and control of the room was with the judge, not him.

Douglas County District Judge James Gleason wasted no time in sentencing Sedlacek to a term that will result in the Omaha man spending most, if not all, of the rest of his life in prison. The sentence of 50 to 100 years in prison means that Sedlacek must serve, under a state law that requires minimum sentences for sexually assaulting children, 40 years before he is eligible for parole. Absent parole, he would serve 65 years before release.

“We just wanted to make sure he isn’t able to hurt anyone else,” Douglas County Attorney Don Kleine said. “This sentence should ensure that.”

The pain caused by Sedlacek’s deviance was evident throughout court. Six students had told authorities that Sedlacek had sexually assaulted them — sometimes in his classroom, other times on the playground.

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In court Tuesday, Sedlacek’s mother sat behind him and wiped away tears while his father balanced a cane between his hands. Sedlacek’s attorney, Marc Delman, said Sedlacek is a good man with a bad problem — a sexual predilection for children.

That attraction to children has followed Sedlacek throughout his adult life. Before working at Fontenelle Elementary School from 2016 until the charges were filed against him in 2018, Sedlacek was a paraprofessional at the Red Cloud Indian School on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota. There, behavior such as excessive hugging and tickling of students led to his firing.

He also had joined the Kenrick-Glennon Seminary in St. Louis in 2013, but was dismissed the next year.

Omaha police said Sedlacek gave them a list of girls he had sexually assaulted. The Red Cloud superintendent has said no children from the reservation school were on that list.

He admitted to sexually assaulting six girls at Fontenelle, 3905 N. 52nd St. The former principal there, Eric Nelson, is awaiting trial on a child abuse charge on allegations that he failed to report Sedlacek’s behavior.

“I have known Greg Sedlacek since he was 4 years old,” Delman said. “Greg is a good person, your honor. He is a religious person. He’s a very devout person.

“What is it that draws people into pedophilia? I have no answer other than it’s a sickness. It’s an illness.”

Asked by Judge Gleason if he had anything to say, Sedlacek responded: “No, your honor, other than I’m so sorry.”

He wept quietly, then thanked his attorney, before being led to prison.

Outside court, the mother of one of Sedlacek’s young victims quietly dabbed away tears.

Prosecutor Molly Keane had described how brazen Sedlacek’s behavior was. Teachers spotted Sedlacek with one of the girls on his lap on the playground, and school surveillance videotape further showed him reaching up a girl’s skirt. That girl and others later told police that Sedlacek routinely had them sit on his lap while he digitally penetrated them.

Interviewed by police, Sedlacek provided some strange rationale for his deviance, at one point blaming a victim, Keane said.

He told police that the fondling “started when one of the children wore dresses without pants, without shorts, without leggings,” Keane said. “As if it was her fault or her family’s fault.

“His behavior has shown that he has a complete inability to control himself,” she said. “He has a propensity to lie to people who could keep him away from children. ... He was given unfettered access to children. He was given trust. He violated all of that.”

The violation is still felt by the girls. Two parents wrote the court, describing how their daughters are in counseling. One has violent outbursts. One sleeps fitfully, sometimes “screaming in the night,” Keane said.

“There is heartbreak,” Keane said, reading from a parent’s letter. “He stole her innocence and left behind a sad, confused and angry little girl struggling to do her best to move beyond what he has done.”

Reporter - Courts

Todd Cooper covers courts, lawyers, trials, legal issues, the justice system and government wrongdoing for The World-Herald. Follow him on Twitter @CooperonCourts. Phone: 402-444-1275.

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