A Vermilion teen who sexually assaulted a teen during a summertime sleepover has been suspended from the school football team.
Vermilion school officials are gathering information before deciding how to proceed. The high school football player was convicted of gross sexual imposition in Lorain County Juvenile Court and practiced with the team for a while before school officials became aware of the legal issue.
The 17-year-old had sex with an 18-year-old girl without her consent in May of 2007 after the two consumed shots of vodka and rum, according to a police report. The boy was convicted of the crime on June 30 of this year, Vermilion police Chief Robert Kish said. The boy was given probation, and Kish is investigating to find out what sex offender program the teen is required to attend.
The boy -- who was 16 at the time of the crime -- is no longer practicing with the team, said former Vermilion school superintendent Bruce Keller.
"He's a non-participant until we deal what action is appropriate," he said. "That could mean there is no further contact with the team or it could mean some potentially very limited role. So what we are talking about is making that decision in the matter of a few days."
Vermilion opens its season Friday night when it travels to Huron.
Football Coach Frank Horvath said the boy remains "a part of the team" although he is not currently participating in team activities.
Keller said the district is waiting to receive information from the juvenile court on the boy's sentencing before deciding anything.
"One of the problems we have in a school setting is oftentimes, in matters such as this, we may be the last to find something out," he said. "So everyone gets a head start and we don't have any information. When we act -- whether it is to eliminate future participation or sanction it in some fashion -- if we take action without it being fact-based, we end up being sued. We've just got to make sure that what we are dealing with is fact-based."
Horvath said the boy is a senior who practiced with the team's offense and defense. He would not say the last day the boy practiced with the team. Horvath said the boy did attend, but did not participate in Tuesday's practice.
Community sentiment appears to be leaning toward not allowing the boy to play football.
Kelly Shupe lives in Vermilion and has a daughter who attends the middle school.
"I don't think anyone who is convicted of a crime should be able to participate in extra-curricular activities," she said.
Shupe's response will likely be echoed by many in the community, Keller said.
"I can hear people saying that," he said. "I'm sure there will many, many who feel that way."