Coach made deal to escape charges

Friday, September 25, 1998

BY ANDREA TORTORA
The Cincinnati Enquirer

COVINGTON -- A legal deal put Ryle High School's football coach back on the Raiders' sidelines, but it could still cost him his job.

The deal was made in order to have soliciting prostitution charges withdrawn.

To keep his record clean, Coach David Eckstein must discuss prostitution and pornography and the impact those acts can have on the community, individuals and families on a public access television show.

No special treatment

Mr. Eckstein must also admit that the facts of his case are sufficient to bring a conviction if the case went to trial.

"We will put this program on cable TV and (Mr. Eckstein) will be a part of it," Kenton County Attorney Garry Edmondson said Thursday. Mr. Eckstein has until Dec. 1 to comply with this condition. If he doesn't, the charges will be reinstated and the case would be back in court.

Harry Hellings, Mr. Eckstein's attorney, said the coach has not received any special treatment. He said the agreement was not unrealistic and he expects Mr. Eckstein to be able to keep his job. "The big problem is the emotional state of my client," Mr. Hellings said.

The coach was back in the classroom and on the football field this week. His three-week suspension ended last Friday when prosecutors announced the July charges for soliciting an undercover police officer by offering $20 for oral sex were withdrawn.

But even if Mr. Eckstein fully complies with the agreement, his job is still in jeopardy.

"If I have knowledge that he has been engaged in any action or conduct which is unbecoming a teacher, then I have to report it," Boone County Schools Superintendent Bryan Blavatt said. "It doesn't matter whether he was actually found guilty."

State law requires school superintendents to make a written report to the Education Professional Standards Board about any teacher known to have engaged in any inappropriate actions or conduct.

The standards board can revoke a teacher's license for a variety of reasons, including immoral character and conduct unbecoming a teacher.

Mr. Eckstein must also stop making disparaging remarks about the Covington Police Department and the officers that arrested him. That condition was reached Thursday during a meeting among those officers, Assistant Chief Bill Dorsey, the county prosecutors and Mr. Hellings.

Lt. Col. Dorsey, spokesman for the department, said Mr. Eckstein's earlier assertions that police entrapped him were unsettling. He said men are only arrested for soliciting after they approach an undercover officer and offer money for a sex act.

Officer Amanda Donelan, dressed in slacks and a T-shirt, was at the corner of Eight and Scott streets the night Mr. Eckstein was arrested. Lt. Col. Dorsey said she does her job by walking the area, waiting to be approached.

"The whole intent is to stop prostitution in high crime areas," Lt. Col. Dorsey said. "It's never been our intent to seek vengeance."

Mr. Edmondson and Bill Crockett, the county's chief prosecutor, said they wanted to help Mr. Eckstein keep his job and prevent any further negative consequences for the football team.

Though the state can still review Mr. Eckstein's status as a teacher, Mr. Edmondson said he hopes they will consider the situation resolved.

Mr. Crockett said the coach's temporary job loss and time away from coaching already punished him more than virtually all other men arrested on the same charge.

Most others charged with soliciting prostitution plead guilty right away, are fined $100 and get some jail time conditionally discharged. Police also said they are satisfied with the final agreement.

"I'm almost certain that (Mr. Eckstein) won't be at Eighth and Scott anymore," Lt. Col. Dorsey said.

But there is still the issue of how to explain the situation to students. Mr. Eckstein originally said he was innocent. Now he must go on television and say otherwise.

That concerns Mr. Blavatt. "If there is an admission of guilt, there is a question," he said.



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