Prosecutors are taking an unusual tact in trying to hold a former Omaha, Neb., teacher and softball coach accountable for having sex with one of his players.
Originally charged with sexual assault of an underage girl, Daryl D. Clark, 46, no longer faces those charges because under Nebraska law, anyone 16 and older can consent to sex, according to the Omaha World-Herald. In this case, the girl was 16 when she and her coach allegedly had sex.
Three counts of first-degree sexual assault that could have carried up to life in prison are off the table. However, now prosecutors are arguing that Clark groomed the girl before she was 16 and have instead charged him with one count of child enticement by electronic device, one count of possession of child pornography, one count of visual depiction of sexually explicit conduct and one count of sexual assault by electronic device.
If convicted, Clark faces a maximum of more than 100 years in prison. According to the World-Herald, Douglas County District Judge Duane Dougherty ruled that Clark should stand trial on those four counts in addition to a separate count of unlawful possession of a firearm on school grounds.
Clark, who lost his job as a business teacher at Monroe Middle School and as softball coach in the Echoes select program, as well as his junior-varsity coaching duties at Bellevue West High School, met the girl when she was 12. She was the younger sibling of a player on his team, and eventually Clark recruited the younger sister to his team, authorities told the newspaper.
She played for Clark when she was 14 and 15. Clark had an unusual rule in that he told his players that he wanted to communicate directly with them and not their parents. Clark and the girl began texting when she was 15 about softball-related issues, and then those conversations expanded to other topics.
According to Omaha police officers’ testimony Thursday, Clark and the girl exchanged numerous texts that became more and more suggestive. The girl at one point sent a picture of her bare breasts, at Clark’s request.
The girl and her coach were finally caught when the girl’s parents left home to attend a football game. The mother returned and heard voices coming from her daughter’s bedroom, where she found her daughter naked with Clark.
The mother recounted Clark’s reaction to being caught: “Don’t tell my family, don’t tell my family,” she recalled he said, according to authorities. “I’ll pay for counseling.”