The Iowa Supreme Court has thrown out the conviction of a former Davis County Community School District coach who had sex with a student because he was not a license teacher.
Patrick Nicoletto was an assistant girls’ basketball coach from 2007 to 2009. He had a sexual relationship with a member of the Davis County varsity team that started when she was 16. A jury convicted him of sexual exploitation by a school employee and he was given a five-year prison sentence. Nicoletto had a coaching authorization, but worked nights at a local manufacturing company and was not a licensed teacher.
Nicolletto appealed his conviction, saying he was required to complete certain courses to obtain the coaching authorization, but argued the fact that the courses can be completed in as little as two weekends undermines any suggestion that a coach holding only a coaching authorization is a licensed professional.
The Iowa Supreme Court ruled in his favor, saying a coach who holds a teaching or other professional license is clearly subject to the sexual exploitation law — but someone holding only a coaching authorization without a professional license is not. They reversed Nicoletto’s conviction.
Justice Thomas Waterman wrote a dissent to the ruling, saying the “hypertechnical interpretation” opens a gaping loophole in the law that was enacted to protect students from sexual exploitation by adults at their school. Justice Edward Mansfield also signed on to Waterman’s dissent.
See the full ruling here: Nicoletto ruling PDF