A judge in Canton, Ohio has thrown out a sexual battery charge against former swim coach Sam Seiple, 59, on the basis of a prior plea deal between the prosecution and defense.
Seiple, who was formerly the head coach at McKinney High School in Ohio, pleaded guilty in 2017 to a misdemeanor charge of unlawful sexual conduct with a minor after admitting to engaging in sexual acts with a then-16-year-old girl from 2014 to 2015. Then, in 2018, new accusations arose related to an alleged sexual relationship with an underage girl in 1995 and 1996. The later charges, which were being tried as a third-degree felony, were thrown out on the basis that the prosecution agreed not to pursue a criminal case involving the second accuser.
The judge in the case, Chryssa Hartnett, emphasized in her ruling that her dismissal was procedural and that she wasn’t “permitted to make any assessment regarding the guilt or innocence of the defendant at this juncture.” She reiterated that the ruling shouldn’t be viewed as an exoneration of the charges levied by the second accuser.
“At the time the first case resolved, the victim in the second case did not want our office to pursue charges,” Stark County prosecutor John Ferrero wrote in a statement. “After further reflection, she later informed us that she wanted our office to bring a criminal action.
“While we respect the court’s decision regarding the second case, we respectfully disagree with the court’s perception regarding pretrial negotiations that occurred off the record in the first case,” Ferrero added. “We are in contact with the victim who is considering the court’s decision, and we will make a determination on how to proceed after we receive further input from her.”
As part of the plea on the misdemeanor charges, Seiple had to register as a sex offender for 15 years and was sentenced to 180 days in jail, with all but two of them suspended by the judge. The victim in the case agreed to those terms. Seiple was banned for life by USA Swimming in late 2017 as a result of the plea.
Sentencing guidelines in the state of Ohio indicate a 9 month to 5 year prison term for third-degree felonies.
Although the victim in the first case, where Seiple pleaded guilty, was of the age of consent in Ohio (16), it was still considered a crime because he held a position of authority over her.