GavelThe Iowa Supreme Court says a former coach who had his sexual exploitation charge thrown out was not “wrongfully imprisoned.” Patrick Nicoletto was convicted of sexual exploitation by a school employee in 2012 after it was revealed he had a relationship with a 16-year-old student while serving as an assistant high school basketball coach for the Davis County Community School District.

The Iowa Supreme Court later overturned his conviction, saying Nicoletto was not a licensed teacher, and his coaching authorization was not covered under the sexual exploitation law. Nicoletto had bonded out of the county jail and never served any of his 5-year sentence — but filed suit after the sentence was overturned — saying he was wrongfully imprisoned.

The Iowa Supreme Court says the law requires a person to spend time in a state penitentiary, not a county jail, to get damages for wrongful imprisonment, and it dismissed Nicoletto’s lawsuit.

A bill addressing the first Supreme Court decision in Nicoletto’s case that would expand Iowa law so any school employee or volunteer at a school activity can be charged with sexual exploitation of a student is pending in the legislature. Under current Iowa law licensed teachers, administrators and counselors can be charged with that crime.