Ex-swim Coach Gets Jail Sentence

Posted: October 09, 1995

NORRISTOWN — In a decision that proved trying even for the judge who made it, Joseph Weber, a Temple University graduate and former Germantown Academy swim coach, was sentenced Friday to serve three years and nine months to 7 1/2 years in prison for having a sexual affair with a 14-year-old girl.

Decrying the excessive adulation of athletes and coaches and saying that Weber was "woefully deficient" in maturity, Montgomery County Court Judge Samuel W. Salus 2d ordered the 28-year-old Philadelphia man to undergo psychiatric care while incarcerated.

Salus, who called the case "very difficult," said it caused "erosion" on Weber's parents, the girl's family, and himself.

Both families and Weber wept openly throughout the proceeding.

In August, Weber, who also coached at the Lansdale Swim Club, pleaded guilty to having had oral sex with the girl, whom he had encouraged to join the Germantown Academy swimming club. According to police, the two also had sexual intercourse. At the time of the incidents, the legal age of consent for intercourse was 14; for oral sex, 16.

Weber characterized the relationship - which began in the summer of 1994, became sexual in December and ended in January - as "consensual," although Friday he admitted it was wrong. At one point, according to police, Weber gave the girl a ring.

The girl, who was a middle school student at the time, speedily read a prepared statement Friday.

"This is not what I wanted," she said, referring to the relationship. ''He used my dreams and my goals . . ."

Assistant District Attorney Risa Ferman called Weber devious and manipulative and said "it is ludicrous to think" that the affair had been consensual.

"He had a tremendous emotional impact on this young lady," Ferman said. ''He was her coach. . . . It was an abuse of power."

In a trembling voice, Weber apologized Friday for his "repulsive" conduct and said that he wanted to study sexual abuse in athletics and help prevent it.

"I became what I most despised," he said, sobbing.

He told Salus that in January, the girl's father called him and said he would not press charges if he promised to resign from coaching, got tested for

sexually transmitted diseases, and never saw his daughter again.

Weber complied. But in February, when the girl went to the North Penn Hospital, she told a nurse about the relationship, and the nurse then informed police.

According to Weber's attorney, Richard D. Winters, the nurse was required by law to report the incident to the police.

When he was arrested in February, Weber was a patient at the Horsham Clinic for severe depression.

Friday, his counselor there said Weber was not likely to repeat his misdeed.

"I believe he has learned from this incident," the psychologist, David Perry, told Salus.

Winters agreed, saying that Weber needed to be punished, but not severely.

"It is an unfortunate situation," Winters said. "Two families are going to suffer."

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