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Indiana court: Ex-coach should go to trial

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. The Associated Press
Saturday, November 17, 2012 - 9:05 am

INDIANAPOLIS — A former northwest Indiana high school volleyball coach should go to trial on charges she failed to report an illegal sexual relationship between another coach and a 15-year-old player, the state Court of Appeals ruled Friday.

Former LaPorte High School head volleyball coach MaryBeth Lebo had asked for misdemeanor charges of failing to report child abuse or neglect against her to be dismissed, but a local judge denied her request earlier this year.

Robert Ashcraft, who had been the school's junior varsity coach, was sentenced last year to 21 years in prison on charges of sexual misconduct and child seduction. Court documents say the 48-year-old coach had sex with the girl about 25 times between September 2007 and the summer of 2009.

According to court documents, Lebo felt uncomfortable with Ashcraft's physical overtures toward the girl during the 2007-2008 season but instructed her student players not to tell anyone what was going on. Lebo was charged in 2011 with failing to inform police or child protective services.

Lebo claimed the charges didn't prove she was aware of the relationship and that they weren't filed within the two-year statute of limitations.

But the appeals court said the allegations were strong enough to support the charge that Lebo helped to conceal Ashcraft's behavior. The judges ruled that under state law, even a suspicion of sexual abuse must be reported.

The court also said the clock didn't begin running on the statute of limitations until authorities became aware of her actions.

Judge John Baker dissented in part, saying he did not agree that the statute of limitations didn't apply to such cases.

Lebo still can appeal to the Indiana Supreme Court.

Her attorney didn't return a message seeking comment Friday.