Van Buren High School Volleyball Coach Charged with First-Degree Sexual Assault of Minor Student

On August 6 of this year, a minor male student who attended a Van Buren, Arkansas high school reported to police that he had been having a sexual relationship with 25-year-old Katherine Nicole Eskridge, a volleyball and physical education coach with the Van Buren School District. The relationship began in March, according to news reports at 5 News and Arkansas Online.

Eskridge reportedly turned herself in to police on September 2 on a warrant for first-degree sexual assault. The alleged victim reported that he and Eskridge had engaged in sex “at least 100 times,” and that they would have sexual relations at the coach’s Fort Smith home, as well as other areas including his own parents’ home and behind a mini-storage unit. The student told police that he was living with Eskridge in her home, and that the relationship had continued from March until early August. Eskridge resigned her position with the school district on August 15.

The minor student told investigators that he and Eskridge became friends after playing gaming app Trivia Crack. He decided to report the relationship after Eskridge stole some of his belongings, saying he had begun to feel guilty. He also reported the former coach left him at a McDonald’s the two had stopped at while enroute to Dallas, and that she had driven off with his wallet and other belongings after he was joking around about revealing their relationship.

Eskridge bonded out of the Crawford County Detention Center on a $25,000 bond on September 2, and is scheduled for an arraignment hearing September 9.

Penalties for sex crimes are harsh around the country, and vary from one state to another. In Arkansas, first-degree sexual assault is a class A felony that occurs when either the victim is younger than 18, or the offender is in a position of authority over the victim. If convicted, a defendant may face six to 30 years in prison.

In the state of Michigan, sexual relations involving penetration with a minor between the ages of 13 and 16 is a felony charged as third-degree criminal sexual conduct. The age of consent is 16 in Michigan, however an adult who engages in sex with a 15-year-old may face up to 15 years in prison if found guilty.

The charges an individual may face in Michigan depend on many factors, including the age of the victim, whether the alleged offender was in a position of authority, whether penetration occurred, past criminal history, and more. Regardless, a conviction not only leaves the accused facing jail/prison time and a ruined reputation and career, it will also damage relationships and require the defendant register as a sex offender for years or in some cases for life. Being labeled a sex offender is the absolute worst punishment of all for some who have been convicted.

Were you wrongly accused of sexual assault or child molestation? Has someone fabricated stories that are not true? Regardless of your innocence or guilt, it is imperative you consult with a Michigan sex crimes lawyer if you have been arrested or are under investigation. Your freedom, reputation – your future literally hangs in the balance.

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