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Ex-High School Coach Sentenced for Second Degree Rape Conviction

02-Jun-2014

A former Western Heights High School basketball coach convicted in late April of second degree rape following a sexual relationship with a student was sentenced last week in Oklahoma County District Court.

Tyrone Nash was convicted of five counts of second degree rape and five counts of forcible sodomy in a bench trial. According to his attorney, he refused to accept a plea agreement which would have kept him out of prison, because a conviction would require him to register as a sex offender for life. On Thursday, an Oklahoma County District Judge sentenced Nash to 10 years, with all but 2 years suspended. In other words, Nash will serve up to 2 years in prison followed by 8 years of probation. He will still be required to register as an Oklahoma sex offender; however, he plans to appeal his conviction.

Nash was convicted after having a consensual sexual relationship with a 16-year-old student. Although the age of consent in Oklahoma is 16, Oklahoma law states that a student does not have the ability to provide legal consent to sex with an adult employee of the same school system. As part of his defense, Nash's attorney challenged the law.

In his challenge, Nash's attorney argued that the law prohibiting consensual sex between student and teachers was a violation of personal privacy rights. He asserted that the law was intended to prevent abuse of power by a teacher; however, in Nash's case, he was neither the girl's teacher nor her coach. Because the student was of legal age to consent, and because the teacher was not in a position of authority over her, the challenge claimed, there was no abuse of power, and therefore no crime. To support the challenge, the attorney pointed to a court ruling in neighboring Arkansas in which a teacher was charged with a crime following a consensual sexual relationship with an 18-year-old student. In that case, the court ruled that the law could not constitutionally apply to two consenting adults.

The judge in Oklahoma said that the Arkansas case had no bearing on Nash's case because it dealt with sex between consenting adults--regardless of the fact that the age of consent in Oklahoma is 16, not 18, and Nash's accuser had reached the age of consent.

Despite Nash's conviction and sentence, his attorney plans to continue to challenge the law, and Nash plans to appeal his conviction. After all, the "victim" in this case admitted to not only consenting to sex, but to instigating the relationship by secretly taking the coach's cell phone and getting his number to text him.

Regardless of the circumstances that led to his arrest and conviction, it is important for Oklahoma school employees, law enforcement officers, DHS workers, and corrections employees to understand the broad scope of Oklahoma's statutory rape laws. Unless and until the existing law is changed, it is up to the employee to refuse a relationship with even a persistent and willing person who is statutorily prohibited from providing consent.



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