Activist disappointed at coach sentencing | NevadaAppeal.com

Activist disappointed at coach sentencing

by Teri Vance, Appeal Staff Writer

Terri Miller said she was not surprised to learn a former Dayton High School coach, who admitted to having sex with a student, received probation this week.

But she was disappointed.

“Student sexual abuse is a growing problem, and as long as these offenders keep getting these lenient sentences, it will continue to be a growing problem,” said Miller, an educator-abuse prevention activist. “It’s not ‘sex’ — it’s abuse, akin to incest.”

Miller serves as president of SESAME, Inc. — Stop Educator Abuse, Misconduct and Exploitation — and is a member of the Nevada Coalition Against Sexual Violence.

Her records indicate that since 1994, 37 school employees have been charged with sex crimes against students.

Of those, seven were sentenced to prison. Eighteen received probation, and five were not prosecuted. One’s records were sealed.

Desi Navarro, 27, former girls’ varsity basketball coach at Dayton High School, was sentenced Monday to five years’ probation after admitting to having sex with a 16-year-old player on his team.

Although the victim and her mother both recommended that Navarro be placed on probation rather than serve time in prison, Miller said it was an injustice.

“She has been been sentenced to a life of coping without the possibility of parole or probation,” she said. “Her life’s course has been severely altered. Not by her choice, but by the deviate actions of the offender.”

Miller said in addition to the sexual abuse, victims often suffer rejection from their peers and emotional trauma.

“They can never be just another kid in school. Their innocence is stolen,” she said. “And there is the broken trust element they have to deal with. They’ll never be able to trust again in the same way.”

Students who are abused by educators have a higher rate of suicide and suicide attempts, as well as an increased tendency toward alcoholism, drug addiction and eating disorders.

The Nevada Coalition Against Sexual Violence will address educator sexual abuse at its second annual conference March 27-28 in Las Vegas.

Representatives from SESAME have appeared on the “Montel Williams Show,” “Good Morning, America” and are scheduled to appear on “The John Walsh Show.”