A former Silo junior-high school coach accused of throwing baseballs at players as a form of punishment pleaded no contest Wednesday to reduced charges and was given a five-year deferred sentence.
Roy Martin West, 43, was facing 14 felony counts of injury to a minor child, but during a plea offer, the charges were dropped to misdemeanor assault and battery on a student.
As part of the plea agreement, he is not allowed to participate in youth sports for two years. Wednesday was his last day to accept a plea offer and he had been scheduled for a May 12 trial. Last week, papers were filed seeking to have the trial moved out of Bryan County.
West was initially charged with seven counts of injury to a minor child in September 2013 after the Bryan County Sheriff’s Office received reports in April 2013 of several seventh- and eighth-grade student athletes being struck by baseballs thrown by West as a form of punishment. Seven additional counts were added at the conclusion of his preliminary hearing early last month.
A probable-cause affidavit accuses West of “striking said minor children in the back, legs, arms or lower torso with a baseball as punishment for inadequate performance while said defendant was a person responsible for the care and welfare of such minor child as a public school coach.”
West, who has been a teacher and coach at Silo for 15 years, was placed on administrative leave by the school district shortly after authorities began investigating the allegations. The Silo Board of Education accepted his resignation in March.
In entering the plea, West wrote in a plea-agreement form, “While coaching the seventh- and eighth-grade boys baseball team on April 9, 2013, if a player did not square up a pitch, they were required to turn around and I threw baseballs and hit the 14 players in the back of their bodies. While some of the boys sustained bruises, I did not intend to hurt any player. I believe each child has testified truthfully.”
If West successfully completes the five-year deferred period, the case against him will be dropped.