PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — A former teacher at a childcare facility in Scott Township was sentenced Monday for child molestation.

Matthew Byars, 26, will spend at least the next 35 years behind bars and he could be there for as long as 70 years.

That was the result of pleading guilty in 13 different cases that involved child molestation and child pornography.

The 12 victims ranged in age from 6 to 17. Many showed up in court prepared to testify against their former teacher and a man they once considered their trusted friend.

Byars apologized in court saying he was sorry to everyone hurt, but didn’t indicate whether that meant his victims or his family or both.

Matthew Byars allegedly took pictures of his victims, fondled them and much more before getting caught.

“I feel a sense of sadness that it happened to these kids. I feel a sense of hopefulness because they all had very involved parents and families and hopefully they will be able to move past this and have long, productive lives,” Laura Ditka, a prosecutor, said.

“And it’s very unnerving,” she continued. “I mean, every parent that works puts their child somewhere – you put your child with a baby sitter, you put your child in a daycare, you put your child in an after school program and you have a belief that your child is going to be safe there. That’s what these people did.

“These were hardworking people who were working and had their children in daycare and all of that sense of security was shattered.”

The plea was presented before Judge Donna Jo McDaniel and all agreed it may have been the easiest route for the victims.

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