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Former Franklin High School assistant track and field coach charged with child seduction

Former student alleged misconduct occurred in 2014
Johnson County Jail.JPG
Posted at 11:33 AM, Apr 23, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-23 13:10:35-04

FRANKLIN — A former part-time assistant track and field coach at Franklin High School faces four felony counts of child seduction, according to court documents.

The charges against James Elijah Betts date to his previous tenure at Franklin High School when he was an assistant boys and girls track and field coach from 2013-15. Betts, 41, returned to the school's coaching staff in February 2021.

A former student who participated in track and field alleged Betts sent her nude photos and that he forced her to have sex with him and commit sexual acts on at least two occasions in 2014 when she was 16 years old, according to court documents.

The former student contacted Franklin Community Schools on March 25. The school district said in a news release it immediately referred to the case to the Indiana Division of Child Protective Services.

A special prosecutor in Morgan County is handling the case, according to the Johnson County Prosecutor's Office.

The former student told investigators communication between the two continued after she graduated and only stopped after she blocked him on social media, court documents said.

She told police she began to "realize the gravity of the incident and was able to start putting words to what she had been feeling and thinking about regarding the interactions" and that she now views what happened as sexual assault, rather than sex, court documents said.

In an interview with police, Betts told an investigator, "I know I’m a bad person, I’ve had affairs. I’m not proud of the things I do. It’s the end of my coaching career, it’s the end of my marriage."

Franklin Community Schools and the Franklin Police Department met April 5 to discuss the investigation involving Betts and the former student. Betts was fired that day, according to the school district.

Officials from Franklin Community Schools said in the news release the district followed the normal hiring process and protocols when Betts was rehired this year. The process included an expanded criminal history background check and child protection index search.

"This search did not reveal any conduct that would disqualify him from being a coach for FCHS," the release said.

The investigation is ongoing, and Franklin Community Schools is working with the Franklin Police Department.