Nicoletto guilty

Patrick Ryan Nicoletto of Bloomfield, Iowa

A former Heartland coach is facing significant jail time after being found guilty of Sexual Exploitation by a School Employee; Thursday afternoon in Davis County District Court.

The eight-woman, four-man jury found Patrick Ryan Nicoletto guilty on the single felony count after less than two hours of deliberation.

A sizable crowd of Nicoletto supporters gasped, some began crying, when the verdict was read.

Nicoletto, who coached several sports at Davis County before his arrest last year, was accused of having a consensual sexual affair with a member of the Davis County girls basketball team.

Prosecutors told the jury that the affair began sometime during the 2007-2008 school year, when the victim was a junior and lasted until she graduated in the spring of 2009.

Nicoletto's attorney argued that his client was the victim of the over-active imagination of a teen-age girl.

Prosecutors told the jury that the victim's testimony was reliable and produced cell phone records that supported her claims.

During the time in question, there were nearly 10-thousand text messages exchanged between the two, the number ebbing and flowing depending on the condition of the relationship.

District Court Judge Myron did not set a sentencing date, saying it would be a least two months before it could be held.

Sexual Exploitation by a School Employee is a Class "D" felony in the state of Iowa, punishable by up to five years in prison.

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