Thursday, June 24, 1999

Video could free man of sex charge

Former coach late in completing deal

The Cincinnati Enquirer

        COVINGTON — When a former football coach accused of trying to pay an undercover officer for sex shows up in court again, the prosecutor wants to make sure he has no excuses left for not making the anti-prostitution video he promised.

        The county attorney himself wrote the script.

        He wants David Eckstein, on camera, to tell why prostitution is a bad thing and to encourage others not to take part in it.

        There's no date set yet for Mr. Eckstein's return to court. But chief prosecutor Bill Crockett, after waiting a couple of weeks for Mr. Eckstein's attorney to work out a court date, has ordered that the former Ryle High School coach be officially summoned to the courthouse.

        Mr. Eckstein, 33, cut a deal last year to avoid prosecution on a charge of solici tation. The charge would be dismissed, County Attorney Garry Edmondson agreed, if Mr. Eckstein starred in an educational video. But the video has not yet been recorded.

        Mr. Eckstein's attorney, Harry Hellings, blamed that on Mr. Edmondson, saying he never set it up. But Mr. Edmondson said it's not his fault the defendant didn't follow through on his promise. So now there's a script and a videographer on standby.

        Mr. Eckstein quit his job last year, saying the publicity had begun to be detrimental. But Mr. Crockett said Mr. Eckstein has been told he might want to apply for a school job again and therefore does not want a conviction on his record.

        If Mr. Eckstein doesn't agree to either do the video or plead guilty in exchange for the usual sentence of a $100 fine and 10 suspended jail days, Mr. Crockett said he and Mr. Edmondson are ready to go to trial. Mr. Hellings could not be reached for comment Wednesday on what his client might do.

        It would be only the third time in recent memory that a solicitation case went to trial. “Everyone else,” Mr. Crockett said, “pleads guilty.”


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