JANESVILLE, Minn. – A former southern Minnesota teacher and coach was sentenced to nearly two years in prison for videotaping students in the locker room shower.
Zach Roberts was sentenced to 21 months in prison after pleading guilty to four felony counts of sex-related crimes against minors. Roberts was originally charged with 8 felonies but agreed to a plea deal that reduced the number of charges.
Roberts, 28, admitted to recording boys with a pen camera while they were showering in a locker room at Janesville-Waldorf Pemberton High School. Roberts was an assistant basketball coach at the time. Some of the victims were as young as 14. He resigned his position before the allegations were made public.
A student-athlete discovered the pen-camera after taking it out of Roberts’ bag to write down a play. Students told the administration about it, and an internal investigation was launched. Investigators soon conducted an interview with Roberts, during which he admitted to owning the pen/camera and said he purchased it in order to record the boys in the locker room. He revealed to police that he had done this an estimated 40-50 times in the past, and used the videos for sexual gratification.
The former choir teacher and coach, who has no criminal history, apologized for his actions in court and accepted responsibility for the pain he caused he teens and their parents. The 21-month sentence is actually an upward departure from state sentencing guidelines for the charges Roberts agreed to. His defense attorney told the judge that Roberts has “gone far and beyond anyone I have ever seen” in accepting responsibility and seeking treatment for his actions.
About 80 people were in the courtroom at the sentencing, showing support for those whose victim impact statements were either read by the victim himself or a representative. “When word began spreading through the school,” the mother of one teenaged victim shared, “I actually defended him (Roberts). As the weeks and months passed the likelihood of these charges being false diminished.”
“Mr. Roberts abused his trusted position as a coach to victimize adolescent boys,” she added.