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MAN FOUND GUILTY OF SEX CRIME

Jurors find a former wrestling volunteer molested a teen years ago.

A former volunteer high school wrestling coach has been convicted of a sex crime against a minor.

A jury Friday found Patrick J. Roberts, 59, of 2619 Warwick Terrace, guilty of lewd and lascivious molestation and unlawful sexual activity with a minor, but rejected a charge of capital sexual battery, said Pinellas-Pasco Assistant State Attorney Kelly McKnight.

The allegations came to light in 2006 when a 20-year-old man told Pinellas County Sheriff's Office detectives that Roberts had repeatedly molested him when he was 12 to 17 years old.

Another man, who was 28, also accused Roberts of molesting him between the ages of 12 and 16.

Roberts was a volunteer coach at East Lake High School, though it's unclear for how long. He was a member of the East Lake Eagles Wrestling Boosters from 1997 to early 2006.

Neither of his accusers knew Roberts through the wrestling team, court documents show.

In court depositions, both men said that Roberts performed oral sex on them and made them reciprocate. Both men also said that Roberts made them engage in anal intercourse.

The assaults occurred in Roberts' home, in a shed on his property and in his car, the two men said.

One victim said "shame" and "guilt" kept him from reporting Roberts sooner. The man said he was self-destructive and used drugs for many years because of the abuse.

"It doesn't go away," he said in a deposition.

Both counts were related to one of the victims, but the other victim also testified, McKnight said.

Roberts' sentencing is scheduled for Nov. 2. He faces up to 30 years in prison, McKnight said.

Rita Farlow can be reached at farlow@sptimes.com or (727) 445-4157.

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