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Ex-Swim Coach Pleads Guilty to Sex with Minor

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The Columbus Dispatch (Ohio)

 

One of Stark County's most respected swimming coaches never will coach again.

Sam Seiple, longtime McKinley High School swimming and diving coach who also has coached many of the area's elite swimmers, pleaded guilty Monday to unlawful sexual conduct with a minor, a misdemeanor charge.

As part of a plea agreement with county prosecutors, Seiple admitted to engaging in sexual acts multiple times between May 2014 and November 2015 with a then-16-year-old girl whom he coached. While age 16 is the legal age of sexual consent in Ohio, it is a crime due to Seiple's position as a coach.

Seiple, who has been McKinley's swim coach and the aquatics director of the C.T. Branin Natatorium since 1994, also agreed to permanently surrender his coaching credentials and must register as a sex offender for the next 15 years. He did not speak in court, except to answer the questions presented to him from Stark County Common Pleas Judge Chryssa Hartnett. His attorney, Eugene O'Byrne, did not return calls seeking comment.

Hartnett sentenced Seiple, 57, to 180 days in jail but suspended all but two days. She hoped the two days in jail would help Seiple understand "what it's like to be a criminal, because that's what you have become."

"There's no amount of jail time that could equate to all that you will lose or have lost as a result of this," said Hartnett, listing his relationships, his job, his license and accreditation and his reputation as casualties.

What's worse, the judge said, is that Seiple's actions might affect other coaches and volunteers who work with young people every day.

"You wiped away so much good that you have done by this and, unfortunately, your conduct may have a chilling effect on others, and that is a shame for all of us," she said.

Before sentencing, the victim, now a college student, read a statement that detailed how Seiple has scarred her life. The Canton Repository typically does not name victims of sexual abuse.

"Every single day I wish this didn't happen to me," she said in court. "I wish I could shower and scrub my skin so hard that it disintegrates because I don't want to live in this body anymore. I feel so foul and vile. I feel so ugly and disgusting because no matter how many times I shower, my skin was still touched by him. I don't wish this pain to be inflicted on any other girl, but God I wish it wasn't on me."

After the hearing, the woman said she agreed with the terms of the plea agreement.

"I have closure now," she said.

Assistant Prosecutor Fred Scott said the woman came forward a year ago while undergoing counseling.

"This was a step in her recovery," he said.

Scott said if the plea agreement hadn't been reached, the office was prepared to file a felony charge of sexual battery against Seiple. He said prosecutors agreed to the lesser criminal charge knowing that it could result in little to no jail time for Seiple because the agreement ends his coaching career.

"His life, or how he has identified himself, is over," he said.

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August 15, 2017
 
 
 

 

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