A former basketball coach and teacher from Machebeuf High School was sentenced to 15 years to life in prison for having an ongoing sexual relationship with one of his students.
Craig DeBiase, 42, had pleaded guilty earlier to one count of sexual assault on a child by a person in a position of trust. In exchange for his guilty plea, six other counts of sexual assault on a child were dismissed.
Court papers show the 17-year-old confided in DeBiase in August 2000, when she was on a summer basketball team that he was coaching.
She said they built a bond and he confided that he was "falling in love with her," according to his arrest affidavit.
Shortly after that, the relationship turned physical and the two had sexual relations, the affidavit stated. The girl told police she and DeBiase had sex 20 times over a period of months.
The sentencing hearing on Tuesday lasted nearly three hours and included statements from the victim and her family as well as the defendant.
Denver District Court Judge Herbert Stern told the standing-room-only crowd in the courtroom that he felt he needed to send a message about the public trust that teachers and coaches have in caring for young people as he sentenced DeBiase to 15 years in prison.
Stern also left the door open for a sentence reconsideration later next year, saying that he would consider a motion from DeBiase for early probation and sex offender treatment once DeBiase had spent some time in prison.
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