WAPACONETA – Former New Knoxville basketball coach Cole Fishbach was found guilty late Tuesday on two of seven charges against him in connection with allegations of misconduct with a student prior to his resignation last summer.
Fishbach was convicted on two counts of distributing material harmful to minors, each of which was demoted from a fifth-degree felony to a first-degree offense because the material was found harmful but not obscene.
Fishbach was found not guilty of two counts of sexual assault, falsification of evidence and two other counts of distributing material harmful to minors after a jury deliberated for nearly five hours on Tuesday.
The verdict was handed down in Augleis County Court on Tuesday before 10pm after two days of testimony.
Fishbach was initially charged with distributing juvenile-harmful material, two counts of sexual harassment and one article falsifying evidence after the former coach was accused of kissing, touching and sending sexually explicit photos last June. student and then reportedly removing the evidence.
On Monday, the minor testified that last June, Fishbach sent her on Snapchat three to 30 images of a sexual nature after they began exchanging messages daily at the end of the school year.
She later told the jury that Fishbach reportedly kissed and groped her in the coach’s office and in his car.
The alleged exchanges mostly took place on Facebook, Facetime and Snapchat, a messaging app in which photos and text messages automatically disappear if the recipient doesn’t take a screenshot or save the message.
Fishbach told investigators that the only physical contact with the girl was a hug that was supposed to comfort her after the emotionally exhausting exercises. But he admitted in a recorded interview with Augleis County Sheriff’s detectives who spoke to a jury on Monday that some of his exchanges with the girl were inappropriate.
However, investigators were unable to provide any of the images described in court after a search of both the defendant’s phones and the girl’s, as well as social media accounts, the defense stressed in its closing arguments on Tuesday.
Fishbach’s sentencing hearing will take place at 11 a.m. on June 27 in the Auglaz County Court.