Judge Marc Long Tuesday placed a former Floyd County High School coach on a public database as a violent sexual offender after finding him guilty of aggravated sexual battery of young girl basketball players in our county.
The coach was slated to take over the popular and successful girls basketball program of legendary coach Alan Cantrell who set records for taking both girls and boys basketball teams from this county to state championships.
Instead, Cantrell’s son and school athletic director Travis Cantrell now coaches the team with assistance from his father and former JV basketball coach Jason Dalton is fired from his job at the school and can never again set foot in a public school, to near a public recreation area where kids play or be around kids under the age of 18.
Dalton pled guilty but claims he is innocent of all charges that detail a history of sexual harassment and assault of at least nine girls ranging from ages 14-18 while he was coaching Amateur Athletic Union basketball in Floyd County before he became a physical education teacher and coach at the high school.
The plea deal that his attorney David Rhodes cut with Commonwealth’s Attorney Eric Branscom kept him out of prison with a suspended 10-year sentence and five years of probation but the deal also requires him to register as a violent sexual offender with the State Police and stay away from underage students and kids for the rest of his life. If he violates that probation, even slightly, he faced 10 years behind bars.
The “Alford” plea he entered allows him to claim he is innocent while accepting that the prosecutors had enough evidence to prove him guilty. Branscom says he wanted to avoid having the victims face further trauma in the multiple trials that would have found him guilty.
A preliminary story I wrote on the Floyd Press website provides more details on the story and even more will be in the full story in Thursday’s edition of the paper. Mike Gangloff of The Roanoke Times also covered the hearing Tuesday.
A man now publicly classified as a violent sexual offender coached our young girls at Floyd County High School. Dalton is not the first FCHS coach to get caught and charged with sexual contact with an underage athlete. Sadly, this will not be the last case heard in Floyd County Circuit Court.
At least three cases currently sit on current court dockets, including an Indian Valley minister charged with molesting a 14-year-old teen. In 2016, a Rockbridge County man persuaded a 15-year-old Floyd County High School school girl to pose nude and masturbate in front of her laptop webcam before setting a date to meet with her and have physical sex. Fortunately, a friend told the school resource officer about, deputies arrested him before any physical sex occurred and he is still in prison.
Sexual abuse cases appear in indictments issued by nearly every meeting of the county grand jury.
Why has this become a “norm” in Floyd County and elsewhere in America?