Thursday, December 9, 2010

Girl's basketball coach charged with child seduction for "affair" with 17 year old sentenced to house arrest

(Original Post 12-20-09)
An Indianapolis girls' basketball coach was charged with child seduction Friday, December 18 for having an "affair" with a 17 year old girl. Investigations believed that Sara Strahm, a 28 year old Pike High School basketball coach, began the "relationship" with her charge earlier in the fall. Pike officials notified police about the alleged relationship.

Sgt. Paul Thompson of the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department said his agency will give more details of the case Monday, when formal charges are filed. "We believe there were five instances of sexual contact between these two individuals. State law clearly states that if you're under 18, you can't give consent if it's a relationship with someone in a position of trust such as a school official." The Metro police department wants others to come forward just in case there are more victims.

Pike Township School Board member Nancy Poore stated that "I'm saddened to hear of an arrest. I'm not passing judgment on whether this is accurate information or whether anything will be proven against this person. . . . But I'm always saddened when I hear there's a problem related to one of our staff members."

Joe Johnson, a parent of a Pike student, said that "A lot of these parents work a lot of hours, and a coach is like a second family. When you get that trust and you break that, it's really disturbing."
Strahm was released on $5000 bond last night after processing at the Arrestee Processing Center.

(Update 12-24-09) Strahm was officially arraigned on six child seduction charges in an Indanapolis courtroom yesterday. There are more details about the allegetions which led to her arrest.

The affidavit said the 17-year-old student who reportedly was involved with the coach told Tiffany Thomas, another member of the school coaching staff. That information on the allegations was given to Pike Township Schools police and then passed along to the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department, which started its investigation Friday, the affidavit read.

An e-mail that had been sent to the Pike athletic director tipped investigators to the case. The athletic director, James Perkins, is quoted in the affidavit as saying there had been allegations about teacher and student earlier this autumn, that Strahm had denied the relationship, and that he had warned Strahm about contact with members of the basketball team. Both women initially denied, then admitted to the relationship, according to the affadavit.

The victim claimed she loved Strahm, according to the complaint. "She (the student) said she loves Ms. Strahm and did not want to get her in trouble." Strahm has been replaced by her assistant David Barlow,
father of a former standout.

(Update 12-9-10) Strahm was sentenced to a year in jail, with 185 days suspended and the rest on house arrest after pleading guilty to two counts of child seduction. The guilty plea took place November 22, 2010. In Indiana, child seduction carries a 1 to 3 year prison sentence and occurs when a person in a position of trust has sexual contact with a teen between 16 and 18.

The Marion County Prosecutor's Office said Strahm will be on probation for 185 days and must undergo sex offender treatment. She has a no-contact order with the victim. Strahm was ordered to give up her teaching license. Her felonies will be reduced to misdemeanors if she successfully completes probation.

Besides the above consequences, she was also ordered to undergo 240 hours of community service and fired from her coaching job in January.

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