Former Dover HS basketball coach sentenced to prison in sex case
A former Dover Area High School girls' assistant basketball coach is headed to county prison for having a sexual relationship with one of her student players.
Aignee Nicole Freeland, 24, of West Maple Street in York City, appeared in York County Court on Tuesday, Feb. 19, and was sentenced to three to 23 months in York County Prison, plus two years' probation.
The sentence, handed down by presiding Common Pleas Judge Gregory M. Snyder, was part of a negotiated plea agreement in which Freeland pleaded guilty Nov. 29 to one count of corruption of a minor. The offense is a third-degree felony.
She will have to register as a sex offender under the state's Megan's Law for 15 years, according to deputy prosecutor Taylor Katherman.
On Tuesday, Snyder noted that a state sexual-offender assessment determined Freeland is not a sexually violent predator.
Freeland — who had been a standout basketball player for William Penn Senior High School and Edinboro University — must pay court costs, have no contact with her victim and abide by the county probation department's sexual-offender conditions, the judge ordered.
Other charges dropped: As part of the agreement, Freeland's other charges, including institutional sexual assault, were dismissed.
At the close of Tuesday's hearing, Freeland was taken into custody by sheriff's deputies.
Katherman has said the victim's family did not oppose the plea agreement. He was not in court Tuesday; the sentencing was handled by senior deputy prosecutor Kara Bowser, who declined comment afterward.
Defense attorney R.J. Fisher also declined comment after the hearing.
In November, during her last guilty-plea hearing, Freeland told Snyder that she was 23 at the time, and her victim was 16.
The background: During the course of the case, Snyder twice refused to accept proposed plea agreements that would have allowed Freeland to avoid prison.
He accepted her negotiated guilty plea after a three-month prison sentence was added to her punishment.
Northern York County Regional Police said they were notified by Dover Area School District officials on Dec. 20, 2017, that they had learned of an inappropriate relationship between Freeland and a 16-year-old girl on the high school basketball team.
Police told the girl's mother about the relationship that day, after which she gave investigators permission to look at her daughter's phone and a forensic analysis was performed, documents state.
It showed 18 video calls — incoming, outgoing and missed — between Freeland and the girl on Dec. 18 and 19, 2017, according to court documents.
The girl was interviewed Jan. 4, 2018, and said she and Freeland met on several occasions after basketball practice in Dover borough, Dover Township and Manchester Township, documents state.
They would sit in a vehicle, talk and engage in sexual contact, according to police.
"She said Freeland would touch her 'all over her body,'" documents state, and that the alleged fondling included penetration.
Kept quiet: "Both were aware Freeland could get in trouble if anyone found out about the relationship, so they agreed not to tell anyone," court documents state.
The relationship began Nov. 1, 2017, and continued until the day police went to the girl's mother, according to police.
In Pennsylvania, the age of sexual consent is 16. Despite that, it is illegal for adults in positions of authority over 16- and 17-year-olds — such as their teachers or coaches — to engage in sexual relationships with them.
Freeland eventually was fired by Dover Area School District and by York City School District, where she worked as a cafeteria aide at the Edgar Fahs Smith STEAM Academy on Texas Avenue.
— Reach Liz Evans Scolforo at email@example.com or on Twitter at @LizScolforoYD.