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Shepard sentencing pushed back to March

Jacob Smith • Jan 16, 2018 at 3:33 PM

The sentencing hearing for Michael Shepard, former Wilson Central High School softball coach convicted of statutory rape by an authority figure was pushed back Tuesday morning in criminal court until March 19 at 1 p.m.

According to Assistant District Attorney Tom Swink, the postponement is due to Shepard getting a new attorney, as well as a psychosexual court evaluation that has to be taken.

“I would say [the assessment] is the main reason they’re pushing it back,” said Swink. “We really can’t do the sentencing without that.”

A psychosexual court evaluation focuses on an individual’s sexual development, sexual history, paraphilic interests, sexual adjustment and recidivism risk level. The evaluation includes a full social and family history, employment and school history, case formulation and specific treatment recommendations. The evaluation is meant to assist the judge and other interested parties with making well-informed disposition determinations.

A jury found Shepard guilty in November of two counts of statutory rape by an authority figure.

Shepard, who was 36 at the time of the two incidents, had sex with a then-16-year-old Wilson Central High School student. Shepard was the softball coach at the school, and the victim was one of the players.

Shepard and the victim had sex two times at a boat ramp off Highway 109, she said on the stand. He did not force her, and she did not protest, Swink said, which meant he did not “rape” her.

However, state law defines statutory rape by an authority figure as sexual intercourse of a child between 13-17 years old by someone more than four years older than the victim. Since she was 16 and Shepard was 20 years older, that fact fit into the law, Swink said.

After the guilty verdict, Swink said, “justice was done for this victim, for this family.”

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