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Soccer coach pleads guilty in sex case, but avoids prison sentence

TAMPA — The teenager who had sex with her married adult soccer coach didn't want to talk about it with defense attorneys and didn't want to testify at trial.

Thanks to her, former Newsome High School soccer coach Ronald Lewis will avoid going to prison for a crime that could have put him behind bars for as long as 15 years.

On Wednesday, Lewis, 38, pleaded guilty to unlawful sexual activity with a minor as part of a plea deal that calls for one year of house arrest and nine years of sex offender probation.

"This was done solely to spare the victim from any further involvement," prosecutor Rita Peters said in court. She "would like to move on with her life."

She was 17 when the relationship began, 18 when it was reported to authorities. She played and he coached for the Brandon Flames, a girls' team in the Brandon Area Youth Soccer League.

Lewis also worked for several years for the Hillsborough County school system as a substitute teacher and volunteer soccer coach. At the time of his arrest, he was a computer lab manager and boys soccer coach at Newsome High School, which his teen victim attended.

Between February and November of last year, they had consensual sex in Lewis' Valrico home and in his Jeep Wrangler, Peters said.

Attorney Donald Smith said Lewis took responsibility for his "bad judgment."

He realized that he had caused "substantial grief" to his wife and family — he has two sons, ages 9 and 17 — and recognized "the potential adverse effect" his actions had on the young woman, Smith said.

Hillsborough Circuit Judge J. Rogers Padgett ordered Lewis to surrender his teaching certificate. Lewis will be a registered sex offender, which requires him to complete a treatment program, have no unsupervised contact with minors and abide by a curfew.

Times staff writer Andrew Meacham contributed to this report. Colleen Jenkins can be reached at cjenkins@sptimes.com or (813) 226-3337.

Soccer coach pleads guilty in sex case, but avoids prison sentence 11/12/08 [Last modified: Sunday, November 16, 2008 6:02pm]

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