Ex-youth coach sentenced to prison | NevadaAppeal.com

Ex-youth coach sentenced to prison

Sheila Gardner
Nevada Appeal News Service

MINDEN – A 25-year-old former youth coach must serve a minimum of 21⁄2 years in prison followed by five years on probation for a life sentence which was suspended in three felonies involving sexual contact with young girls.

Benjamin Thomas Schuler was sentenced Tuesday by District Judge Dave Gamble following an emotional hearing that included statements from the victims’ parents who said their daughters were robbed of their innocence.

Schuler, formerly employed as a Douglas County School District basketball coach, originally was charged with lewdness with a child under 14, luring a child with the intent to engage in sexual conduct and luring a child.

He admitted inappropriately touching a 13-year-old girl through her clothing on Jan. 22; sending an e-mail to the same girl on Feb. 24 trying to entice her to come to his home for sex; and asking a 13-year-old between Jan. 17-Feb. 5 to sneak out of her home and “hang out” with him.

Schuler said he inappropriately touched the girl through her clothing while they were on a school bus.

He was arrested when one of the victims’ family members discovered the text messages.

Schuler had been paid a stipend by the school district to coach basketball at Pau-Wa-Lu Middle School for three years and was a school volunteer. His contract expired at the end of the basketball season.

The father of one of the girls told Gamble that Schuler’s actions had “taken a confident, outgoing kid and kind of put her in a shell.”

“She’s kind of withdrawn herself,” the man said. “She is being harassed at school and has lost interest in sports, especially basketball which she loved.”

Another victim’s father said he preferred to settle the matter with “a tall tree and a short rope.”

He said his daughter’s grades plummeted from 3.5 grade point average to 1.5, she’s no longer interested in sports and is afraid of men.

“Once this happens to a little girl – a 13-year-old girl – she’ll deal with this the rest of her life. Her youth has been ripped away from her. She’s a different person,” he said.

Schuler apologized to the victims’ families.

“I want you to know I am truly sorry. This was all my fault, not their fault. I understand you are angry with me. If it was my little girl, I would be just as angry. I am not proud of what I did. I will live with this the rest of my life,” he said.

Gamble interrupted Schuler when he characterized the offenses as mistakes.

“You didn’t make a mistake. You committed about six crimes. These are offenses against humanity. This isn’t forgetting to turn in a library book,” Gamble said.