MERIDIAN — Roberson convicted on three sex charges
By Brian Livingston
Former Clarkdale High School girls softball coach Rick Roberson was convicted on three of six sexual misconduct charges Thursday afternoon in Lauderdale County Circuit Court.
Roberson, who coached girls softball teams to several state championships since becoming the head coach in the early 80s, stood stoically with his head bowed as the verdicts were read.
Roberson was convicted of count one and count two in the indictment. Both of the charges were for the exploitation of a child. He was also convicted on count eight of the indictment, lustful touching of a child.
Roberson was acquitted in three other counts; one for exploitation of a child, and two charges of lustful touching of a child.
Roberson was arrested Sept. 27, 2012 and was charged with lustful touching of a child while in position of authority and of statutory rape after former players brought the allegations against him.
The jury consisting of seven women and five men reached the verdict on each of the six charges in about two and a half hours.
Bill Jacobs, one of the attorneys representing Roberson, asked Lauderdale County Circuit Court Judge Lester Williamson Jr. to allow Roberson to remain free on his existing bond. Williamson denied his request and Roberson was led in handcuffs and ankle restraints across Fifth street from the court house to the Lauderdale County Adult Detention Facility.
Williamson said a date for the sentencing hearing would be set later during this court term.
Neither Jacobs nor Joseph Kieronski Jr., who was the other attorney representing Roberson, commented on the verdict. District Attorney Bilbo Mitchell, however, said he was pleased with the outcome of the trial.
"We feel really good about the verdict," Mitchell said as he left the court house. "The first and second counts in the indictment were ones we were really counting on getting and we accomplished that."
Mitchell went on to say he believes this verdict means a lot to the people of Clarkdale and the high school.
"There have been rumors for a long time," Mitchell said. "Now there is finally a stop to that."
Mitchell said on the first two counts of exploitation of a child, Roberson could be sentenced to between five and 40 years. He said for the lustful touching of a child Roberson could receive between two and five years.