CANTON — The former coach accused of taping players showering in the team locker room will spend 15 years in prison.
Just a month and five days after his arrest, Scott Studer, 46, was sentenced Wednesday after entering eight guilty pleas to the illegal use of a minor in nudity-oriented material.
Judge Frank Forchione said he wanted this case to go quickly to let the 112 young men whom prosecutors identified as victims move forward with their lives.
Fast-tracking the case will also keep those victims names private and the evidence videotapes sealed.
Prosecutors say Studer started taping his freshman basketball team in the shower in 2005 by putting a camera inside a locker.
“He put it in a box when he got a smaller camera and put it on a laundry bin. And then sometimes he handheld it and did use it from his office,” said Stark County Assistant Prosecutor Chryssa Hartnett.
Studer admitted to this conduct at least 30 times each season, creating hundreds of recordings and a community full of hurt.
Studer coached at Jackson High School near Canton for more than two decades. He was arrested after investigators searched his home and found nude images on a DVD, a computer and a flash drive.
The judge ordered the tapes held by prosecutors for two years, in case of civil proceedings, before they are destroyed.
“You were more than a coach to me. You were my hero. The truth of the matter is much different now though,” read one victim’s statement.
The words of many victims recounted feelings of betrayal for a man once thought of as a friend and mentor.
“Locker rooms are a sacred place for inspiration, motivation,” said Judge Forchione. “And you used it for your own self-gratification.”
Studer says he wishes he could take it all back.
His full statement to the court is below:
“I’d like to apologize to all the people that I embarrassed and hurt with my bad decisions. The administration and staff of Jackson Local Schools, the parents of our basketball family, the students of Jackson, the coaching staff, and most importantly…the ones that I hurt so much and that I cared so much about the basketball players.”
“I’m so sorry for the bad things that I did. I always talked to my players about trust, respect and family. My bad decisions went against everything that I ever talked about. I wish I could take it all back and make everything better for them, but I can’t. I hope someday they can find it in their hearts to forgive me but I understand if they can’t.”
Along with prison time, Studer is banned from Jackson Township schools and athletic events for life and cannot contact his victims. He will have to register as a sex offender for life.
The community is ready to focus on basketball again, and not him.
“We trusted him. We cared about him,” said the father of one victim, who did not want to be identified.
“It’s sad what these boys are going through. We’re just going to push on.”
The judge also sentenced Studer to pay a $5,000 fine.
Instead of paying the court, Studer will have 90 days to pay the amount to the families from Sandy Hook Elementary.
Judge Forchione opened the hearing with a moment of silence for the Newtown, Connecticut victims.
Hartnett says federal agencies are continuing to investigate the case that led to the discovery of the videos.
Prosecutors stress that any conduct that comes to light in the future would require a new case. They urge anyone with additional information or concerns to come forward.