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Former coach loses appeal in child sex case

– A former northwest Indiana high school volleyball coach should go to trial on charges she failed to report an illegal sexual relationship between another coach and a 15-year-old player, the state Court of Appeals ruled Friday.

Former LaPorte High School coach MaryBeth Lebo had asked that misdemeanor charges of failing to report child abuse or neglect be dismissed, but a judge denied her request this year.

Robert Ashcraft, who had been the school’s junior varsity coach, is serving 21 years in prison for sexual misconduct and child seduction. Court documents say the 48-year-old coach had sex with the girl about 25 times between 2007 and 2009.

According to court documents, Lebo felt uncomfortable with Ashcraft’s physical overtures toward the girl during the 2007-08 season but instructed her players not to tell anyone what was going on. Lebo was charged in 2011 with failing to inform police or child protective services.

Lebo claimed the charges didn’t prove she was aware of the relationship. But the appeals court said the allegations were strong enough to support the charge that Lebo helped to conceal Ashcraft’s behavior. The judges ruled that even a suspicion of sexual abuse must be reported.