Chad Pindell, 36, Napoleon, pled guilty to one count of child seduction Jan. 11 in Ripley County.
"This was a result of his actions as an assistant coach and sex acts with a 17-year-old player on the Jac-Cen-Del High School girls basketball team approximately one year ago," explained Ripley County Prosecuting Attorney Ric Hertel. The hearing, packed with Pindell family and friends, initially began with Pindell pleading guilty and receiving a sentence of executed time and a probationary period.
Judge Jon Cleary, who was acting as a special judge due to Judge Ryan King’s recusal in the matter, cited a number of factors including Pindell’s position as assistant coach, the ongoing relationship between Pindell and the victim, and Pindell’s use of social media to send pictures to the victim as reasons mandating in his mind a fully executed sentence of at least three years. The judge noted that when children go to school and are a part of extracurricular activities, they are expected to be safe and that did not happen here. Cleary gave the defense attorney, Jud McMillin, time to meet with Pindell and his family to decide on how to move forward, according to Hertel.
Ultimately, Pindell pled guilty "open" to the judge with a sentencing date of Feb. 7. He faces a sentence of one to six years and was remanded to the Ripley County Jail, Versailles, where he will remain until sentencing.
Hertel praised the outcome of the hearing, saying that there is often a balance that the state has to consider, the wishes of the victim and the protection of a community. Hertel felt both were accomplished on Friday.
The prosecutor noted that he and Indiana State Police Detective Pete Tressler had discussions and meetings with the victim and her mother about the desired outcome they sought. Hertel said, "The victim repeatedly requested not to testify to the actions of Pindell that took place in the Jac-Cen-Del locker room and the sordid details on what Pindell had sent her on social media." That weighed heavy in both the detective and prosecutor’s minds as this case moved forward, saying that requiring her to testify would amount to a re-victimization.
The victim will have a right to address the court at sentencing, but Hertel believes if that happens, it would only be by written account. Noting this is a case of first impression of a coach and student in Ripley County, Hertel cautioned the public about the dangers and pitfalls of social media and minors.