Sean Stern

Sean Stern

BELTON — A former Belton youth soccer coach previously convicted of rapes in Florida was sentenced Friday to 20 years in prison for a Bell County conviction.

Sean Stern, 37, will serve his Bell County sentence concurrently with the 20-year sentence he received in Florida, according to the plea agreement with the Bell County District Attorney’s office.

Stern pleaded no contest to an aggravated sexual assault of a child charge when asked by state District Judge Paul LePak what his plea was.

A no contest plea means he acknowledged there was enough evidence against him that would lead to a conviction if he went to trial, LePak explained.

If Stern’s case had gone to trial, he could have been sentenced to 5 to 99 years or life in prison. However, the victim didn’t want to go through a trial, Assistant District Attorney Erica Morgan said.

“The approach taken was to conclude the matter in a way that avoided a jury trial, waive his rights to appeal and be held accountable by being sentenced to 20 years in prison,” Bell County District Attorney Henry Garza said Friday.

Stern must serve at least half of his sentence before he is considered for parole, LePak said. He was given credit for serving about 11 months in county jail. He must register as a sex offender for the rest of his life.

His attorney, Robert Phillips from Georgetown, said Stern would prefer to serve his time in a Texas prison instead of in Florida, but LePak advised him he had no control over where Stern went to prison.

“For now, he’s going to the Texas Department of Criminal Justice,” LePak said.

LePak reminded Stern that he’s now a repeat offender. If he offends again and is convicted, the sentence range would be from 15 to 99 years. He could be labeled as a habitual offender, which would change any future sentence ranges to 25 to 99 years.

Stern walked out of the courtroom with only a brief look backward at two people who were there to support him.

Assault case

A 27-year-old man told authorities that he was sexually assaulted, starting when he was 10 years old, and named Stern as the man responsible.

Stern was sentenced April 12, 2018, to 20 years in a Florida prison after he pleaded guilty to molesting three children younger than 16 — who he coached in Palm Coast, Fla. He was sentenced on five felony charges of lewd and lascivious molestation of a victim younger than 18 — and one victim was younger than 12.

In the Bell County case, the victim said Stern was his teacher, personal trainer and idol, but Stern turned wrestling into something that “was completely wrong.” The victim didn’t report the sexual assault until he learned Stern was arrested in Florida on similar allegations.

Stern was extradited to Bell County from Florida to face the local charge. He formerly played on a Dallas Burn professional development team and was a former Division I collegian. Stern helped conduct Belton Christian Youth soccer camps. He also had ties with soccer programs in North Carolina.

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