DISMISSED: State Drops Charge Against Wes Richard Friday
Former DHS assistant wrestling coach had been accused of having sexual contact with a 15-year-old female student.
DILLINGHAM: On Friday state prosecutors dismissed the case against a former Dillingham high school wrestling coach accused of having sexual contact with a 15-year-old female student. Wesley P. Richard, 24, was arrested last Octoberafter Dillingham police investigated the allegation.
In a brief statement, assistant district attorney Clint Campion in Anchorage said that although he believed the police had established enough probable cause to make an arrest, there was not enough evidence to prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt to a jury.
With the state's case officially closed, Richard’s attorney, Myron Angstman in Bethel, said he is hopeful that his client can now be exonerated by the public as well.
"There's a tendency in cases like this to greatly publicize the filing of the charges," said Angstman, speaking by phone Friday. "And when those charges are proven to be improper, as these were, there's very little publicity follow-up."
Richard had been charged with first degree sexual abuse of a minor in part due to the age difference between he and the victim, but also because of an authority he allegedly held as a part-time substitute teacher at the school.
Angstman said there was no evidence to suggest Richard had ever taught in any of the victim's classrooms. He also said the defense would have argued that the victim misrepresented her age to Richard in their contact on Facebook.
"When there are so many problems with a case like this, the charge should not have been brought until the police found out if there are facts to support some of the things they allege," said Angstman.
Richard, a 2008 DHS graduate, had only been working as an assistant wrestling coach and substitute teacher at the school since the fall semester began in August. The school district placed him on paid administrative leave while the charge was being investigated, and fired him the day of his October arrest.
**Correction: The Dillingham City School District said that Richard submitted a voluntary resignation, but was not fired by district after his arrest on the charge in October.