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Former Sequim coach pleads guilty

Jerry Jeff Pedersen, 29, a former volunteer assistant coach with the Sequim High School girls varsity basketball team, pled guilty Thursday, Aug. 21, to five felony counts of communicating with a minor for immoral purposes.

The plea comes after Pedersen pled not guilty in Clallam County Superior Court May 2 for exchanging explicit texts and pictures with a 15-year-old girl on the team.

A Sequim Police investigation stated that Pedersen, a volunteer coach since November 2012, was in a relationship with the girl for more than five months.

The five felony counts come from obtained text messages shared March 1-23. Each felony charge could lead up to five years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine for each charge, but because Pedersen does not have a previous criminal record he may face one to three months in jail, 12 months of community custody and/or up to $10,000 in fines.

His attorney John Black has recommended 60 days of home monitoring for Pedersen’s sentencing, set for 9 a.m. Oct. 7, in Clallam County Superior Court.  Pedersen must register as a sex offender and not have contact with the victim and any female minors under age 18.

Court documents indicate the 15-year-old voluntarily went to police on March 24 and said she became close with Pedersen during a basketball camp from July 21-26, 2013.

The student allegedly told police she and Pedersen would text several times a day from waking up to going to bed at first about life and school before turning into flirting, court documents state.

Police interviewed high school staff and students after a parent brought forward the allegations to them, which led police to obtain cell phone records and stored data.

Det. Sgt. Sean Madison of the Sequim Police said school administrators learned of the incidents after he informed them.

Sequim Schools District Superintendent Kelly Shea said the district removed Pedersen from his position once the allegations came out. Like other volunteers coaches in the school district, Pedersen was fingerprinted and given a volunteer checklist that includes information on student/coach interaction.

Dave Ditlefsen, Sequim High School’s athletic director, said Pedersen's was an isolated incident within the district and that they won’t be making any other changes or adding new protocol.

“He had gone through the background and was trained according the district policy,” he said.

“We have no plans to take any further steps to check other coaches’ backgrounds. Paid girls basketball coaches (Evan Still, varsity, and Justine Wagner, junior varsity) will remain the same.”

Pedersen graduated from Sequim High School in 2004.

 

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