BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — A petition to keep a former Buffalo Public Schools teacher in prison has been in circulation for the last 24 hours.
Sixty-three-year-old Peter Hingston pleaded guilty to child pornography charges, in June 2021.
7 News is showing his mug shot because of the position he held at City Honors, which is where he taught for nearly 30 years, according to a court memorandum.
The petition has collected more than 1,00 signatures.
A former student of Hingston's created this petition and said he is looking to send a message.
City Honors graduate Patrick Swain said he first walked into Peter Hingston's technology class, in 2015.
"The signs were always there. There were always whispers of his inappropriate behavior throughout the hallways of City Honors but I always thought they were just rumors," Patrick Swain said, "Now, knowing what I know, I find it very hard to bear the fact I was likely walking past his victims in the hallways every single day."
At the time, Swain was 12 years old. He graduated in 2021.
The-now 19-year-old said he wants justice for his peers.
Swain explained, "We were children. We were all children, and we hadn't yet learned to stand up for ourselves. That's why people rarely alerted the adults in the building as to the atrocities, which were happening within its walls. I want Mr. Hingston to know that we are not children anymore and we are demanding justice."
That is why he created a petition on Change.org Wednesday afternoon, which has garnered more than 1,700 signatures, so far.
With each signature, this puts them one step closure to justice for him and his peers, Swain explained.
He added, "Of course, probably the best means of trying to sway this judge is sending him personal statements, but I recognize that not everyone has the ability to do that. So, I wanted to create a way in which we can make a collective statement, where 1,000 people can endorse a singular idea."
Buffalo attorney, Lynn King, has also worked to bring attention to the sentencing hearing that is taking place this week and into next week.
In the 14-page Government's Sentencing Memorandum and Response to Defendant's Sentencing Memorandum, which was issued earlier this month, the guideline sentence is 210 to 240 months, or 17.5 years to 24 years, imprisonment.
However, Hingston's legal team is looking for a more lenient sentence of seven years.
"I believe 15 to 20 years would be adequate," Swain said. "If that's what we're going to get, I'll take it, but the defense's idea of 7 years is insulting to the victims. It's a slap in the face, is what it is."
The document recounts testimony from four female witnesses who said they saw Hingston use a Go-Pro camera to take pictures of underage female students.
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The document contains other details too graphic for air. The full document can be read here:
Swain told Pheben Kassahun via Zoom, "I think that the nature of his crimes clearly show that he is a repeat offender and I have yet to be convinced that he is remorseful."
Kassahun reached out to Hingston's lawyer, Rodney Personius, who told her he cannot publicly comment right now.
The U.S. District Court for the Western District of New York also would not comment on the case.
Hingston's sentencing is expected to continue into next week.