A former Sherman Independent School District teacher was sentenced Thursday to 15 years in prison after pleading guilty to sexual assault of a child.

A former Sherman Independent School District teacher was sentenced Thursday to 15 years in prison after pleading guilty to sexual assault of a child.


Leigh Claiborn Mahaffey, 36, of Denison received his sentence from District Judge Rayburn Nall, according to a release from the Grayson County District Attorney’s Office. The sentence was pursuant to a plea agreement that he reached with Grayson County prosecutors.


In March, a man who is the father of a 15-year-old girl reported to the Denison Police Department that he had discovered inappropriate text messages from Mahaffey on his daughter’s phone. Investigators took the girl to the Grayson County Children’s Advocacy Center where she was interviewed. The girl said that Mahaffey had been having sexual contact with her for several months, since she was 14 at the time. Detectives recovered multiple text messages corroborating the girl’s account. Mahaffey, who at the time was employed as a teacher with the Sherman Independent School District, refused to give a statement to investigators.


"Mr. Mahaffey’s contact with this girl was not connected to his work as a teacher," Grayson County District Attorney Joe Brown said. "This contact happened at home, and he was connected to the victim through her family. We have been asked about inappropriate contact with children at school, but law enforcement never received any specific complaints about his contact with students. The school district cooperated with officers from the beginning."


Mahaffey faced two to 20 years in prison for the offense. As part of Mahaffey’s plea, he will be required to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life. He will be eligible for parole after serving half of his sentence.


The case was prosecuted by Assistant District Attorney Matt Johnson. Mahaffey was represented by Sherman attorney T. Scott Smith.


"Mr. Mahaffey accepted responsibility for his actions," Smith said. "These cases are difficult. I think everyone involved is glad to have closure."