A former club and high school swim coach in Arkansas has been sentenced to 35 years in prison for sexual assault and child pornography as part of a plea deal.
51-year-old Stephen Duwel had been embroiled in a legal battle since last summer involving a 14-year-old boy he met over an app called “Grindr.”
Duwel was arrested on suspicions of sexual assault last July. He originally pleaded “not guilty” to seven felony charges in September, but was added to USA Swimming’s banned list by October.
ArkansasOnline now reports that Duwel has pleaded guilty to the charges against him, which include:
- internet stalking of a child
- engaging children in sexually explicit conduct for use in visual or print medium
- five counts of distributing, possessing or viewing matter depicting sexually explicit conduct involving a child
- fourth degree sexual assault
Duwel was the head coach of Northwest Arkansas Aquatics and was a volunteer with the swim team at Bentonville High School. He no longer holds either position.
The former coach met an underage boy on the Grindr app, and the two exchanged phone numbers. The app requires users to be older than 18, and the teen admitted to entering his age as 18 in order to use the app. But text messages showed that at one point, the teen admitted to Duwel that he was only 14 and in 8th grade.
Court documents say Duwel did not stop contacting the boy after learning his true age, and that the two became involved sexually at some point in the relationship.
Duwel will face 35 years in prison. ArkansasMatters.com reports that he will also have 10 years of supervision after his release from prison. He will also have to register as a sex offender, complete a sex offender treatment program and was ordered not to have any contact with minors.