Victims flanked by relatives and dozens of supporters packed an Anoka County courtroom Wednesday as former middle school teacher Jefferson Fietek was sentenced to 30 years in prison for sexually abusing five boys over the course of a decade.

Fietek, 48, pleaded guilty in August after being charged in June 2020 with 10 felony counts of criminal sexual conduct related to students at the Anoka Middle School for the Arts and participants in the Young Artists Initiative, a theater nonprofit he co-founded, who reported abuse spanning 2009 to 2019.

Under the terms of the plea agreement reached in August, Fietek admitted to performing oral sex on three of his accusers when they were between the ages of 13 and 15, and committing unlawful sexual acts against two other victims. He acknowledged that he was in a position of authority at the time of the abuse and that he initiated the sex, which wasn't reciprocated by the victims.

In court on Wednesday, Fietek apologized to his victims and said blame shouldn't be placed on parents, the school district or the Young Artists Initiative. "I am 100 percent to blame for what happened," he said.

Judge Kristin Larson said she believed Fietek showed remorse but that he had "a lot more work to do. Your moral compass was just ignored and set to the side in the name of self-gratification."

Larson added that the case was an important one with "strong emotions that are understandable," which came through in the victims' impact statements.

Telissa Elliott, the mother of Fietek's only victim still in high school, read a statement on behalf of her 16-year-old son Elijah, who gave the Star Tribune permission to use his name. She said Fietek took advantage of her family — a single-parent household with three children and her mother dying of cancer — at their weakest moment.

"I allowed him to come into our home, build our trust, become part of our family, sit down at our table," Elliott said. "I fed him. I allowed him to take my son on outings. He used me as bait to get to my son for his own disgusting satisfaction."

Elliott said she could never stop blaming herself. Staring at Fietek from the courtroom podium, she told him that he won't be forgiven: "I was a failure of a mother to not see beneath his smile ... to see he is truly evil and a pedophile and a devil in disguise."

Jacob Tighe, 25, whose Facebook post in 2020 detailing his abuse sparked the criminal investigation, thanked Fietek for pleading guilty and "sparing us from having to look at his putrid face any longer than absolutely necessary." He added that the prison sentence meant that the "shackles of guilt and shame are being loosened a little."

"I had a childhood," Tighe said. "The last few years of that have forever been poisoned by the time I spent with Jefferson Fietek."

Zander Sellie, 26, who uses they/them pronouns, said their favorite TV show when they met Fietek was "Arthur," a PBS cartoon for grade-school kids. "Sometimes when we come forward as adults, we forget that we were children when this happened to us," Sellie said. "I realize there are five named victims, but I know the effects are far more than that."

Fietek started working for the Anoka-Hennepin School District in 2005. While there, three undisclosed complaints were filed against him. The Star Tribune found that at least one parent and Fietek's sister had reported concerns to district officials about him spending time outside of school with young boys.

Fietek left the district in 2019 to teach at Emerson College in Boston, shortly before he was charged. He was extradited to Anoka County in 2020.

After his mother spoke in court, Elijah Elliott decided to say something though he hadn't prepared a speech. He broke down in tears as he shared how his mom let Fietek take him out for dinner because she was caring for his grandma, and how Fietek had encouraged him to audition for a production.

"I was a shy kid in theater class, never wanted to try out or do anything," he said. "He just manipulated me. He didn't care for me. I trusted him. I'm glad this man is going to prison for the rest of his life. ... He's a terrible person."