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Former Franklin track coach pleads guilty to child seduction

A former Franklin Schools employee has pleaded guilty to child seduction after a former student provided information about an inappropriate relationship from eight years ago.

James “Eli” Betts, 43, of Franklin, pleaded guilty to one count of child seduction by a child care worker as a felony 5 level. He was originally charged with four charges of seduction of children by an educator.

The case was handled by a Morgan County prosecutor due to a conflict of interest within the Johnson County prosecutor’s office.

The plea agreement says the sentence was pre-negotiated by Betts’ attorney and the special prosecutor. The sentence is six years, including three years to be served in the Indiana Department of Corrections or an alternate placement and three years probation.

A former Franklin Community High School student and member of the track team told school officials in March 2021 that Betts seduced, fondled and forced her to have sex with him twice in 2014, while that she was still a minor, according to a probable cause affidavit filed in Johnson 2 County Superior Court. The school fired Betts on April 5, 2021 according to a news release.

Betts served as an assistant coach for the girls’ and boys’ track teams at Franklin Community High School from 2013 to 2015. Betts resigned in January 2015, but returned to the track coaching staff in February 2021, according to the release. hurry.

The incidents occurred in May and July 2014, when the victim was 16 years old. The first incident happened in May 2014 in Betts’ car, and the second happened in July 2014 at his home, according to court documents.

Betts continued to communicate with the victim after he resigned as coach and she graduated. The communication included inappropriate messages and sending nude photos via Snapchat, the victim told police.

The victim reported the abuse to Franklin Community Schools on March 25, 2021, and school officials say they immediately reported it to the Department of Children’s Services, as required by state law. State. She said she came forward now because Betts had started coaching again at school and she didn’t want what happened to her to happen to anyone else, according to court documents.

When rehiring Betts, Franklin Community Schools followed normal hiring process and protocols, including an extensive criminal background check and child protection index search, as required. state law. The search revealed no conduct that would disqualify him from coaching, according to the press release.

Charges were filed on April 20, 2021 and a warrant was served two days later. Betts tied the same day.

Betts initially denied the allegations to police, but eventually told them he knew he had crossed the line and detailed how he had done so. Betts denies forcing the victim to have sex, according to court documents.

Betts said he and the victim plan to reunite after he graduates from high school. The victim said Betts started a “countdown” to 18.

A formal sentencing hearing is scheduled for Betts on June 9.