A former high school cross country coach in West Virginia was sentenced to probation and must register for life as a sex offender after pleading guilty to assaulting a 15-year-old student-athlete.
Corissa A. McCalister, 22, Steubenville Catholic Central High School teacher and the head cross country coach and assistant track coach, was sentenced after accepting a plea agreement to one count of sexual battery involving a 15-year-old.
McCalister was sentenced to two years of probation, community service and must register as a sex offender, WTRF-TV reported. McCalister had originally pleaded not guilty.
McCalister was driving a 15-year-old student home from a track meet at Edison High School when she made a stop at the Harrison County Fairgrounds in Cadiz where the assault took place.
The juvenile’s mother notified the school of the allegations and law enforcement officials were contacted.
In April, McCalister was charged with two counts of sexual battery for having sex with a 15-year-old student.
During a hearing, Judge T. Shawn Hervey said the victim’s family was aware of the plea agreement and of McCalister’s possible sentence.
In court, McCalister’s attorney, Dennis W. McNamara, spoke on behalf of his client.
“Ms. McCalister graduated from college and got her license as a teacher at 21, very young and obviously pretty advanced basis to do that; maybe not so much on a social behavior axis as far as maturity is concerned. She now is an ex-teacher and that is going to be permanent, courtesy of the state department of education, appropriately because of this conviction, which I consider to be a significant sanction that they have imposed,” he said.
McNamara said McCalister has been in counseling and plans to continue doing so.
The judge sentenced McCalister to two years of probation, 80 hours of community service, and a reserved 2½-year prison sentence. She must also have no contact with the victim in the case. As a result of the conviction, McCalister must register as a Tier III sex offender for the rest of her life.
According to a Herald-Star report, the judge addressed McCalister.
“Punishment is necessary in this case because you held a position of trust and responsibility and you violated that and you’re going to face severe consequences for that; however, it’s my understanding that you still have the ability, you’re 22 years old, you still have a long life ahead of you and someday you can put this behind you.”
The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, or SNAP, provided a statement following the sentencing:
“Our hearts ache for the victim who was hurt by a Steubenville Catholic teacher who has just been sentenced for her crimes of child sex abuse.
“We commend the 15-year-old boy who came forward and reported his abuse to law enforcement. We hope that every person who saw, suspected or suffered abuse by Corissa McCalister calls law enforcement or at least confides in trusted sources like therapists and loved ones who are independent of the church and school.
“Abuse by women is every bit as harmful to children as abuse by men. It’s often even more difficult for boys who have been assaulted by women to come forward than it is for girls who have been assaulted by men.
“The adult is always responsible, especially when he or she is in a position of respect and superiority. A 15-year-old, the law has long recognized, cannot give genuine consent in a situation with such a power imbalance. Every adult, whether 22 or 61, knows that any sexual contact with an under-aged student is wrong and can be devastating. Thankfully McCalister is being held accountable.”