The former head coach of the Eden Dolphins Swim Club is going to jail for three years for raping a 16-year-old girl.
Between November 2014 and February 2014, Glenn Christopher Nellis transferred sexual photos of the teen from his cell phone to his home computer. The 41-year-old coach also sent sexual pictures of himself to the teenager and had dozens of sexually explicit conversations with her via text and e-mail.
The conversations culminated in the two having a sexual encounter in Chestnut Ridge Park.
In court on Friday, the victim's mother called Nellis a "pedophile" and a "pervert."
"He stole my daughter's innocence and virginity," the victim's mother told Justice John Michalski. "This was premeditated, as evidenced by his own texts, claiming I knew you were into sex when you were like 11."
Other text messages read by the mother included "my underage angel" and "I know how to get reasonable doubt."
The mother told the court that Nellis "spent years grooming all of us, and used his position of authority over my daughter to draw her into his sick world."
The former coach spoke, saying he never meant to hurt the victim or the community.
"My actions put a lot of lives on hold, brought about a lot of pain," Nellis said.
The defense attorney adamantly argued that Nellis did not deny responsibility or the girl's allegations after his arrest.
However, the prosecution painted a different picture leading up to that point.
During a phone call between the victim and Nellis being monitored by the police, "The defendant demanded that she lie to her parents and tried to turn her against her parents and berated her for disclosing the incident."
Nellis was not employed by the Eden School District while he coached for the Eden Dolphins, though the swim club operated on school property. After Nellis was charged, he was banned from school property and removed from the club.
School Superintendent Sandra Anzalone tells 7 Eyewitness News the district will be taking a look at its policy for who can use school facilities.
A second female coach was also removed from the club after Nellis was charged, though she has not faced any criminal charges.
The defense asked for leniency during sentencing. A psychiatrist stated Nellis was a low-to-moderate risk of re-offending. Summing up the report, defense attorney Anthony Lana said, "What lead to this was personality flaws, more than him being a sexual deviant."
Probation or just a few months in prison were possible sentences.
"If the person has no criminal history, if the psychiatrist determines through an evaluation that there is a low or moderate chance of re-offending, then the sentence would be on the lighter end," said Florina Altshiler with Russo & Toner.
"For him to get a state prison sentence, I believe is appropriate and I hope sends a message to other predators," stated Acting District Attorney Michael Flaherty after the sentencing.
Flaherty added that, "If you misuse your trust and take advantage of children, we will be tough, you will be prosecuted and you will suffer the consequences."
Altshiler stated that adults often use "grooming" to coax victims into relationships in cases of statutory rape.
"An older adult takes a younger person and molds them into being more acceptable of and open to promiscuity and sexualized behavior," she explained, using examples of the perpetrator complimenting the victim's hair or shirt and then twisting that into a sexual or controlling suggestion.
Altshiler added that the age of social media, it is easier for perpetrators to target victims. However, it is also easier to catch them.
Nellis pleaded guilty in August to third degree rape, promoting a sexual performance by a child and first degree disseminating indecent material to a minor.
On top of three years in prison, Nellis will also have seven years of post-release supervision and the victim will have an order of protection in place until 2029.
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