Ex-coach gets 7 years in rape of teenager

The Columbus Dispatch - - Metro&state - By Marc Ko­vac mko­vac@dis­patch.com @OhioCap­i­talBlog

NE­WARK — A for­mer youth sports coach was sen­tenced to seven years in prison Wed­nes­day for rap­ing a girl at his Thornville home.

Gary Strat­ford, 37, also was clas­si­fied as a sex of­fender and will have to com­plete reg­is­tra­tion and other re­quire­ments for the rest of his life after plead­ing guilty to two counts of felony rape in the late Septem­ber in­ci­dent.

“You were the one per­son I trusted most,” the 14-year-old vic­tim, who was in court for the pro­ceed­ings be­fore Judge David Branstool, wrote in a state­ment read be­fore the sen­tenc­ing.

Ac­cord­ing to court doc­u­ments, Strat­ford pro­vided the youth with al­co­hol, then re­quested that she sleep in bed with him, where he dig­i­tally pen­e­trated her. She left the room and went to the kitchen of the home but was urged back to bed, where Strat­ford re­peated the crime.

Strat­ford cried and wiped his eyes with a hand­ker­chief as he faced the more than a dozen peo­ple who at­tended his hear­ing and apol­o­gized.

“I take full re­spon­si­bil­ity for what I’ve done,” he said.

Strat­ford is a for­mer youth-league base­ball coach who was hired in Septem­ber as an eighth­grade foot­ball coach at Lake­wood Mid­dle School in He­bron. He re­signed from the po­si­tion about a week after be­ing charged with rape, ac­cord­ing to Lake­wood school board meet­ing min­utes.

The vic­tim in the case was not as­so­ci­ated with the teams.

Strat­ford

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