File under: Everything you shouldn’t do as a girls’ basketball coach, father and just a human being in general. If you thought it impossible for a coach to make matters worse when allegedly carrying on a sexual relationship with one of his high school girls’ basketball players, former Mishawaka (Ind.) assistant Mark Benner found a way.
The 45-year-old has been charged with two counts of child seduction after his alleged two-year relationship with a 17-year-old student-athlete was discovered when he accidentally sent a text message meant for player to his own daughter. According to multiple local media reports, Benner sent the following text to his daughter:
“Hey beautiful. Words cannot describe the love and feelings of being [graphic content]!!!!!! Thank you so much!!! I love you with all of my heart!!!.”
Court documents revealed that Benner’s wife forwarded the text message to Mishawaka girls’ basketball coach Kevin Gradeless and the player’s parents. When confronted by her parents via text, Benner allegedly responded:
“Words cannot express how ashamed and disgusted I am with myself for betraying your trust!!! Just please understand that you have an incredible daughter who is NOT responsible for any of this!!!!!!! This was 100% my fault!!!!! I apologize from the bottom of my heart!!!! The hurt, pain, and embarrassment I have caused your family is something I will NEVER get over!!!! Even more, the hurt I have caused [redacted] is absolutely killing me!!!!!!!!”
The case reportedly hinges on whether the alleged sexual relationship began when Benner was still an assistant coach at the school. Because Indiana’s age of consent is 16 years old, their alleged relationship may not have been illegal if he were no longer in a “supervisory role,” according to WSBT-TV.
The alleged victim told police investigators their relationship turned from an instructional one that began when she was a youth basketball player to a physical one when he resigned as Mishawaka’s assistant coach in March 2013, according to reports. The two allegedly “kissed for the first time” when he informed her he resigned, and the relationship progressed to sexual intercourse from August 2013 to March 2015, the reports said. During that time, Benner allegedly continued coaching her privately and told the girl he could help her get a college scholarship.
Benner pled not guilty and was released on $2,500 bail. He is barred from any contact with the alleged victim.