High school coach pleas no contest

December 1, 2008 8:47:39 PM PST
A Piner High School soccer coach pleaded no contest this afternoon to committing oral copulation with a 16-year-old girl who was intoxicated and incapable of resisting.

Richard Alexander Vives, 42, of Santa Rosa, agreed to the plea agreement as his preliminary hearing on seven felony and one misdemeanor charges was about to begin in Sonoma County Superior Court.

Vives was also charged with oral copulation, penetration with a foreign object and sexual battery, and a misdemeanor count of contributing to the delinquency of a minor.

The victim was a friend of Vives' 16-year-old daughter who spent the night at the Vives residence between 50 and 75 times, defense attorney Kristine Burk said.

Burk said both Vives and the girl consumed alcohol prior to the offenses and were the only ones awake in the house on the morning of Oct. 3.

"He's a good man who made a mistake. This was not intercourse. He is not a predator. There was no force or coercion," Burk said after Vives's plea.

The girl's family declined to comment this afternoon after the plea.

Vives faces up to eight years in prison when he is sentenced Jan. 23. Burk said Vives will have an evaluation to see if he is eligible for probation which she will argue for at sentencing.

She said Vives agreed to plead no contest because he felt it was important to take responsibility.

Deputy District Attorney Jason Riehl said the charge of oral copulation on someone too intoxicated to resist is one of several charges Vives faced that is punishable by up to eight years in prison. The charge calls for a three, six or eight-year term. The rest of the counts will be dismissed at sentencing.

Vives also must register as a convicted sex offender because of his conviction on the charge, Riehl said.

Burk said the girl is not connected to the soccer team or Vives' coaching duties.

Piner High School Principal Mary Beth Halsey said Vives was a walk-on coach who was not employed in any other capacity at the school. She said he was cleared to coach by Santa Rosa City Schools.

This was Vives' first year coaching and he began in September, Halsey said. He was coaching the junior varsity girls' team that includes students in grades 9-12, Halsey said.


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