A state court has upheld the 40-year prison sentence of Brian Robeson, the former Omaha middle school teacher who pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting a former student.

Robeson had appealed to the Nebraska Court of Appeals, arguing that the sentence was too harsh and that he received an ineffective defense from his lawyers.

Robeson, 37, is serving a 40-year prison sentence at the Nebraska State Penitentiary after pleading guilty in September 2016 to first-degree sexual assault as part of a plea agreement. In exchange for the plea, the Douglas County Attorney’s Office dropped a second sexual assault charge.

Under state sentencing guidelines, he will have to serve half of that before he can be released.

Over the course of more than a year, authorities say, he was involved in an inappropriate sexual relationship with a former student, with the assaults starting when she was 13 and a student at Alfonza W. Davis Middle School. Robeson taught seventh-grade math at the school.

Robeson was employed by the Omaha Public Schools for 13 years. He was fired shortly after his arrest in December 2015.

In his appeal, Robeson contended that the sentence handed down by Douglas County District Judge Kimberly Pankonin was excessive and did not take into account mitigating factors, including Robeson’s history of alcoholism, his rocky childhood and his relationship with his two young children. In addition, Robeson said the sentencing shouldn’t have occurred without a presentence investigation report.

The appeals court, made up of a three-judge panel, said in an opinion delivered Tuesday that Robeson waived his right to a presentence report when he and his lawyer requested an expedited sentencing after entering the guilty plea. Robeson said at the time that he didn’t know all the facts about presentence reports.

The court also rejected Robeson’s claim that the sentence was excessive, noting that he agreed to a plea agreement for 40 years in prison.

The parents of the victim have filed a federal lawsuit against Robeson, OPS and Davis Principal Dan Bartels, alleging that the district and several administrators ignored warning signs that Robeson was grooming and assaulting their daughter.

erin.duffy@owh.com, 402-444-1210

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Reporter - Education

Erin is an enterprise reporter for the World-Herald. Previously, Erin covered education. Follow her on Twitter @eduff88. Phone: 402-444-1210.

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