Crime Watch 8

Docs: Track coach charged after former student alleges nude photos, sexual acts from 2014

FRANKLIN, Ind. (WISH) — A Franklin man has been charged with child seduction in a case that dates back to 2014.

James Betts, 42, has been charged in the case with four felony counts of child seduction.

According to court documents, Betts had an inappropriate relationship with a 16-year-old student in 2014 while he was a coach with the Franklin Community High School track and field team.

Charges were filed on Tuesday after the victim, now an adult, came forward on March 25 by contacting the school corporation. The victim told investigators that she decided to come forward after learning that Betts was again working with students on the track team. Betts previously coached from 2013-15 and rejoined the school in February 2021.

The school corporation says Child Protective Services was immediately contacted and that Betts “had no further contact with student-athletes” since the day the victim came forward.

On April 5, school officials met with the Franklin Police Department about the criminal investigation. Betts was fired the same day.

The corporation says all protocols were followed regarding hiring Betts, including a “expanded criminal history background check and child protection index search.”

Online court records do not currently list a future court appearance for Betts.

It ‘turned sexual in nature very quickly’

The victim said she met Betts when she was a freshman on the track team. She said Betts first started texting her from another student’s phone, but then later from his own devices.

She said they communicated on Snapchat, telling police it “turned sexual in nature very quickly,” according to court documents.

She says Betts sent between 50 and 100 pictures of his penis on Snapchat.

Betts also kept a countdown until she turned 18, telling investigators Betts would tell her how many days, months and years it would be until she was 18.

Reid Abney was a senior on the track team in 2014 and friends with all the girls on the team. He’s sickened to know about the charges now.

“I was deeply disgusted. He’s been a big part of the community. I’m almost at a loss for words,” Abney said. “Never thought he would have become a monster.”

In the summer of 2014, the victim said she was riding in a car driven by Betts after babysitting his kids.

The victim said Betts began talking about “road head” before pulling down his pants.

Betts “grabbed her by the back of the head with his hand and forced her mouth onto his penis,” according to court documents. She says Betts also fondled her while in the car. The victim says Betts told her not to tell anyone about the incident.

Some weeks or months later, the victim said Betts invited her over to his house while his wife was out of town.

She says she told him they were going to stay on the porch and that Betts said he was “craving sex,” according to court documents.

After a few minutes, Betts told the victim he needed to go inside. She followed him in.

She told police she was physically shaking from the nervousness after sitting down on a couch with Betts. The victim says they had sex in the living room and could see his children sleeping in a nearby room, leaving her “traumatized by the thought of the kids being so close to this,” according to court documents.

She told police she later took a pregnancy test while crying. She says she told Betts about the pregnancy test, which came back negative, and his response was “that was dumb because he never ejaculated,” according to court documents.

She said she got rid of the shirt she was wearing that night, either by throwing it away or burning it.

“To know what they had to go through something horrible like that, just really breaks my heart,” Abney said.

The victim said the two had fewer communications after the night at his house, but that he still occasionally contacted her after she went to college. She told police she tried “to convince herself that the sex had been consensual” but that “she never felt that she could say no,” according to court documents.

When she learned in March that Betts was back with the track team, she felt it was her “responsibility” to tell the school because “she did not want anyone to ever have to go through what she went through,” according to a probable cause affidavit.

“I think she was very, very brave for doing that. I’m sure that’s a very scary thing,” Abney said. “That way, in return, she can feel relief herself and prevent this from happening to someone else.”

Betts speaks to investigators

Detectives with the Franklin Police Department met with Betts on the morning of April 5.

After asking Betts if had ever engaged in any misconduct, Betts told police that he had not, saying that he “connects well with kids but never crosses the line” and “that he has never been inappropriate with his athletes,” according to court documents.

Police then asked Betts specifically about the victim in the case, with Betts replying that he did not have any sort of relationship with her outside of the track team. He was then asked about inappropriate photos. He told police he had sent pictures of his penis but not “to anyone that he knew of that was less than 18 years old,” according to court documents. He then said that he had sent photos to the victim on Snapchat, but after she had graduated.

When asked about the victim coming to his house, he told police they did not go inside together and they did not have sex. He said he told the victim not to tell anyone because “he knew it would look bad,” according to court documents.

He then told police that he and the victim “planned on getting together after she graduated from high school” and that “they agreed that what ever happened, happened,” according to court documents.

“I probably let things go further than I should, but we didn’t have sex,” Betts said.

Police continued to question Betts.

“I know I’m a bad person, I’ve had affairs. I’m not proud of the things I do,” he told police. “It’s the end of my coaching career, it’s the end of my marriage.”

Betts still maintained that he did not have sex with the victim, but told police that they had kissed.

After more than an hour of questioning, Betts then told police that he had lied about them not going inside his house together and they had touched while “naked from the waist down while grinding,” according to court documents.

He said the incident led to him quitting coaching. Documents obtained by investigators state that Betts resigned as a coach at Franklin Community High School on Jan. 14, 2015.

WISH-TV knocked on Betts’ door Friday. His wife referred us to his attorney Jay Hoffman who said he looks forward to receiving information from police within the next month or so.

Franklin Community responds

Franklin Community Schools has issued this statement on the matter:

On March 25th, Franklin Community Schools was contacted by a former student alleging misconduct against Mr. James Eli Betts. The matter was immediately referred to the Division of Child Protective Services as directed by state law. Mr. Betts had no further contact with student-athletes after March 25th.

On April 5, Franklin Community Schools and the Franklin Police Department met to discuss a police investigation involving FCHS part-time assistant track coach Mr. James Eli Betts and a former student. Mr. Betts’ coaching responsibilities were terminated on April 5th.

Mr. Betts previously served as an assistant coach for the Franklin Community High School Girls and Boys track teams from 2013-2015. The allegation of misconduct happened during the previous coaching experience at FCHS. Mr. Betts had returned to the FCHS track coaching staff in February 2021. Franklin Community Schools followed the normal hiring process and protocols, including the Indiana State Statutory required 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.

Franklin Schools will continue to work closely with the Franklin Police Department on this matter. All students’ safety is a priority, and the district has procedures and policies in place to ensure a safe, secure learning environment is available to all. If anyone has additional information, they should contact the Franklin Police Department.

Franklin Community Schools

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