- Special Sections
- Public Notices
Landmark News Service
Former Staunton River High School football coach Rick Witt accepted a plea bargain Tuesday in Roanoke Co0unty Circuit Court reducing charges that he had sex with an underage female William Byrd High School student in 2008.
Witt, already serving four years after being convicted of having sex with that student and another girl in Bedford County, had faced eight felony charges of carnal knowledge and taking indecent liberties with a minor.
He pleaded guilty to two misdemeanor counts of contributing to the delinquency of a minor. Judge James Swanson sentenced him to 12 months on each count, suspending six months of each.
Roanoke County Commonwealth's Attorney Randy Leach said the reduced charges and the sentences were appropriate given that Witt, 38, had admitted his guilt, accepted responsibility for his actions and is serving time. The plea hastened the end of court proceedings so the family can put those behind it, he said.
Leach summarized the evidence against Witt just before sentencing.
Witt, who had coached the girl's brother, was close to her family. When the student broke up with a boyfriend in 2008, Witt started lavishing more attention on her, she told investigators.
There were text messages, Facebook postings and phone calls as the relationship moved from friendship to sex.
By June 2008, Witt and the girl were engaging in what Leach said were "consensual but criminal" sexual acts. At least two of those were performed in Witt's car, parked out of view in Vinyard Park.
The county was unaware of the relationship until Bedford County investigators passed on information about it.
On Dec. 7, Witt pleaded guilty in Bedford County Circuit Court to 10 misdemeanor counts of contributing to the delinquency of a minor by having consensual sexual intercourse with two teens on separate occasions. The other girl was a student at Staunton river High School, where Witt also coached and taught.
This month, Witt was sentenced to 10 years, with six suspended, in Bedford County.
During the April 12 sentencing hearing, one mother looked at Witt and talked about his seduction of her daughter. "You chose her, groomed her, abused here and broke her," the woman said.
After Tuesday's hearing, during which Witt kept his attention focused on the judge, the girl's family said they were satisfied with the plea agreement.
"But my daughter will never get her innocence back," her mother said.