Coach as figure of authority is central issue in sex trialWOODBURY - The attorney defending a former Park High School girls’ hockey coach accused of having sex with a pair of 16-year-old former players indicated in Washington County District court on Monday he will argue his client was not in a position of authority over the teen girls when the incident took place in 2006.
By: Jon Avise, South Washington County Bulletin, Worthington Daily Globe
WOODBURY - The attorney defending a former Park High School girls’ hockey coach accused of having sex with a pair of 16-year-old former players indicated in Washington County District court on Monday he will argue his client was not in a position of authority over the teen girls when the incident took place in 2006.
Day one in the trial of Eric Darwitz ended without interviews of prospective jurors. But during a series of motions and objections Monday Darwitz’ attorney, Earl Gray, and Assistant Washington County Attorney Michael Hutchinson previewed some issues that could arise during the trial this week in Stillwater.
Darwitz, 32, is facing charges on two counts of third-degree criminal sexual conduct stemming from the August 2006 incident.
The fact Darwitz had sex with the two former players days after he left his post is not in question, Gray said in court.
Rather, the case hinges, he said, on whether Darwitz could be considered a figure of authority to the teen girls when he allegedly purchased alcohol for the pair and then, along with another man, had sex with them at his Woodbury residence.
While the prosecution, defense and Judge William B. Ekstrum sorted out what was admissible in court from the 64-page transcript of the more than two-hour-long police interview of Darwitz conducted last year, Gray said it was important “not to lose sight of the central issue, which is whether or not (Darwitz) was in a position of authority.”
He also referred to Darwitz’ actions as “distasteful.”
Gray said Monday that Darwitz may take the stand in his defense, and Hutchinson said the alleged victims would also testify.
Another issue that may come into play during the trial is the allegation from Gray that the boyfriend of one of the alleged victims — the individual who told police of the 2006 incident — had tried to extort money from Darwitz in order “to keep his mouth shut.”
Prospective jurors filled out questionnaires Monday. Both parties reviewed their answers Monday and will reconvene to begin questioning the pool Tuesday morning.