Basketball coach pleads ‘no contest’ in CSC case.

December 3, 2018

Russell Swihart with attorney Mark Miller.

Basketball coach pleads ‘no contest’ in CSC case.


By Allison Scarbrough, Editor.

HART — A 36-year-old former high school basketball coach faces three to 15 years in prison after pleading” no contest” to third-degree criminal sexual conduct (CSC) Monday, Dec. 3, in 27th Circuit Court.

Russell Douglas Swihart was initially charged with five felony counts of CSC stemming from the sexual assaults of two 13-year-old female players. Swihart’s case was slated to go to trial this month, and it is no longer taking place in light of his plea.

Swihart, of 5755 N. 192nd Ave., Walkerville, was facing charges of first-degree CSC, second-degree CSC, two counts of accosting children for immoral purposes and child sexually-abusive activity. The five counts were dismissed when he pleaded Monday.

The former coach, who is free after posting a $100,000/cash/surety bond, appeared in court with his attorney Mark Miller.

He was arrested June 25 following a months-long investigation by the Oceana County Sheriff’s Office that involved interviewing several witnesses.

Swihart was the boys JV basketball coach at Walkerville High School and assisted with the JV girls basketball team, said Oceana County Sheriff Craig Mast said.

Oceana County Prosecutor Joseph Bizon said he consulted with the victims and their families, and they are in agreement with the plea deal. The victims are spared from having to testify at trial. The girls appeared in the courtroom, sitting next to each other and holding hands, demonstrating their support for each other. The girls’ mothers and several other people sat in the audience in support of the victims.

After Swihart’s arrest, school officials ordered him to not be on school property “until further notice.”

The incidents occurred in Crystal Township during a time period of Dec. 1, 2017 to March 27, 2018, said Judge Robert D. Springstead. Swihart engaged in oral sex with the victims, said Springstead.

“You will have to make parole to be released,” Springstead said.

“You are no longer denying the charge, but not admitting to it,” the judge said of the “no contest” plea. “Basically it says, ‘I surrender.'”

Swihart’s attorney said he entered the “no contest” plea due to potential civil liability.

The judge ordered that Swihart be placed on house arrest within 48 hours of Monday’s court appearance until his sentencing, which is set for Jan. 28 at 9 a.m. He will only be allowed to leave his house for work between the hours of 6 a.m. and 6:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. If he violates the curfew, his bond will be revoked.

Bizon said Swihart will have to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life.

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