Ex-Piper coach gets 18-year prison sentence for sex with students.

A popular former wresting coach at Piper High School received an 18-year prison sentence after pleading guilty to having sex with two teenage students.

Lucius Jenkins, once the Sunrise school's assistant wrestling coach, originally faced the possibility of life in prison on charges of sexual assault sex with a minor. He decided against going to trail and instead pleaded guilty Tuesday. Broward Circuit Judge Stanton Kaplan sentenced Jenkins to prison, then added 15 years probation after the prison term.

Jenkins, 39 was arrested in September 1997 after a 17-year old girl told police she had sex with jenkins after he promised her he would reunite her with her former boyfriend - Jenkin's newphew- in exchange for oral sex.

That girl led police to another teenage girl who said she had a similar encounter with Jenkins two years earlier. The second girl told police she had intercourse with lenkins and another assistant coach, 32-year-old. William R.Bethel, in order to remain a wrestling team manager. The case against Bethel, who was also charged, has not been resolved, but police said he confessed. The sex acts took place in school offices and classrooms. the girls said.

Kaplan gave Jenkins, who is not in custody, 30 days to surrender and begin serving the sentence. Jenkins had no prior criminal history before the 1997 arrest.

He originally pleaded not guilty although he admitted committing the crime to police and the school principal, according to court records. Another condition of Jenkin's sentence is that he not be allowed contact with children.

Both Jenkins and Bethel, who also was a maintenance worker at Piper, resigned their jobs upon their arrest. Jenkins also worked as a security guard at the school. Both men, who live in Fort Lauderdale, had worked at the school for nine years.

Many expressed shock at Jenkin's arrest. He was popular among teachers and students, who often called him "Bid Luscious" for this towering frame.

"Frankly I think it was quite a surprise to everybody. He was pretty well liked at Piper," said. Piper High School Athletic Director Michele Berry. "I'm just shocked about the whole situation. It blew my mind to begin with."

Jenkin's attorney, Ralph Behr was unavailable for comment Wednesday. The state Department of Education received 66 complaints about teachers allegedly in sexual misconduct with students in the 1996-97 school year, the year that Jenkins and Bethel were arrested.

The U.S. Supreme Court also dealt with the issue last year, ruling that school boards cannot be held responsible when teachers sexually harass or abuse students if administrators were unaware of the misconduct.

back