Former Forest Grove High School basketball coach Robert Schuppert, Jr., convicted in January for his sexual abuse of student, received a suspended jail sentence on Monday. As reported by Emily E. Smith at the Oregonian, the Senior Deputy District Attorney Kevin Barton asked the judge to impose some time in custody for Schuppert.
Instead, Circuit Judge Don Letourneau sentenced Schuppert to five years of probation. Only if Schuppert violates the terms of his probation—which include a condition to not have any contact with the victim—will he receive the suspended 90 days in jail. Schuppert must also complete sex offender treatment and can have no contact with teen girls while on probation.
At Schuppert’s sentencing, the victim and her mother expressed frustration with the case because they did not want Schuppert prosecuted, insisting he had done nothing wrong. No matter the circumstances, however, child sexual abuse by a trusted adult is scarring to the child—whether the victim or their family members recognize it in the moment or not.
When teachers and coaches sexually abuse children, they violate a sacred trust. Schuppert used his position of trust at the high school to gain access to a young girl and his actions will impact the rest of her life. Unfortunately, Schuppert is only one of several Oregon coaches recently arrested or prosecuted for the sexual abuse of children.
Another Oregon man, Phillip Luna IV, a Eugene area youth coach, was arrested in Springfield in early March for the sexual abuse of a child under 10 years old, according to a recent Register-Guard article by Chelsea Gorrow. Luna coached Pop Warner football for the Thurston area, and served for the Springfield United first-grade boys basketball team with Emerald KidSports. His charges include first-degree rape, first-degree sodomy, first-degree sexual abuse, and using a child in a display of sexually explicit conduct—a charge resulting from Luna allegedly having filmed or photographed the abuse, according to Sgt. David Lewis of the Springfield Police.
The Hood River County Sheriff’s Office also recently arrested Geraldo Morales, a former youth coach, on allegations of sexual abuse. The charges against Morales include sodomy, sexual abuse, and attempted coercion, according to Laura Frazier at the Oregonian. Morales had been involved with children through community sports and group programs, and authorities expressed concern that there may be additional victims.
Numerous other area coaches have also faced investigation or prosecution for abusing their sacred trust with children and students:
- Aloha High School soccer coach Eric Willard Wise was arrested in January for the sexual abuse of a 17-year old student. Wise also spent several years as a coach for the Lake Oswego Soccer Club and Crossfire Oregon Soccer Club.
- Central Catholic Football Coach hired Jon Taylor after he was investigated by police for texting lewd photos of his penis to a developmentally disabled student at Parkrose High School while he was an educational aide there.
- West Salem High School assistant basketball coach Emrance Berger pled guilty to sexually abusing a player on his team.
- Bend area gymnastics coach, Rich Gustafson, was sentenced to prison on charges that he sexually abused several young girls.
- Cheerleading coach, Robert Parks, was recently arrested on child sexual assault charges involving a girl.
- Former Colton School District football and wrestling coach, Kenneth “Scott” Carroll, was arrested on sexual assault and child pornography charges in both Oregon and Washington states.
The prosecution and sentencing of Schuppert is important for the safety and welfare of the whole community, not just one or two individuals. The courts have a responsibility to impose sentences that send a message to other adults in positions of trust—that the sexual abuse of students and children will not be tolerated.
We applaud all survivors of sexual abuse who report what they have gone through. Coming forward and talking about sexual abuse is difficult, and often, victims face pressure or threats to keep quiet. By speaking out about abuse, victims can begin to heal and help bring sexual predators to justice.
If you have information about a teacher or coach who may have sexually abused you or someone you know, please call us toll-free at 1-888-407-0224 or email us at [email protected].