A former high school snowboarding coach was sentenced Monday to 12 years in state prison after pleading no contest to continual sexual abuse of a child.
A special allegation of substantial sexual conduct had been dismissed in the plea agreement, which had called for a stipulated sentence of between six and 12 years.
Samson Smith was a snowboard coach at Nevada Union for approximately 10 years, and his March arrest sparked concerns in the community that the charges might involve former students.
The charges against him involved a family member rather than a member of any athletic team or student, police stressed at the time of his arrest.
According to Deputy District Attorney Jennifer Ow, the victim was 10 years old when the sexual abuse began. She added that it continued over a time period of nine years, according to the victim, although only four years were listed in the charge.
The victim, who is now an adult, became suicidal, which led to the disclosure of the abuse, Ow said.
Deputy Public Defender Keri Klein argued that the elements cited by Ow as aggravating factors were simply part of the charged offense and should not be considered as reasons for a longer sentence.
“All of these (types of) cases are disturbing,” Klein said. “This one is not any more disturbing than any other.”
Klein argued that Smith’s upbringing — which included physical and sexual abuse of his own — should be considered as a mitigating factor.
“He was raised by wolves,” she said. “He never learned to be a good father, or a good husband.”
Aside from this “huge mar,” Smith has led an exemplary life, Klein said.
“He acknowledges that what he did was wrong,” she added. “He is throwing himself on the mercy of the court.”
Anderson opted to sentence Smith to the middle term of 12 years for the offense, noting, “He was an adult and in a capacity to take a different course than what he chose.”
Smith can receive 15 percent time credit for good behavior; he has 198 days credit for time already served.
To contact City Editor Liz Kellar, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 530-477-4229.