“I mean this isn’t — I don’t think she’s gonna have psychological injury the rest of her life,” Warda said Thursday. “I mean he’ll be in prison — but, you know, she’ll have forgotten all about this at some point.”
Warda told Tuscola County Circuit Judge Patrick Joslyn that a reasonable sentence would be 4-8 years in prison, and said Gotwalt wasn’t a pedophile. Gotwalt pleaded guilty to crimes involving sexual touching of the girl in summer 2010, rather than sexual penetration, and acknowledged kissing her.
The judge disagreed and sentenced Gotwalt, of Tuscola County’s Wells Township, to from 7 years and 2 months to 15 years in prison.
“The victim of this offense will be impacted the rest of her life. This just doesn’t go away,” Joslyn said, according to the transcript.
On Friday, Warda said he stood by his remarks in court.
“I simply made those comments,” Warda told The Associated Press. “The judge was upset. I just have to tell it like it is.”
Warda said the girl fell in love with her coach and sent him hundreds of text messages. While conceding that the relationship was “completely inappropriate” and shouldn’t have happened, he said Gotwalt was undergoing cancer treatment at the time and was suffering from depression.
“I’m not blaming the victim,” Warda said. “I’m just saying there are circumstances here, but nobody wanted to hear them.”
Tuscola County Prosecutor Mark E. Reene said Gotwalt’s crimes will have a lifelong impact on the teenager.
“The hope is that over time that impact will be lessened, but to suggest that she will forget about this and move on, there’s absolutely zero chance of that happening,” Reene said.
Gotwalt coached at Caro High School, about 80 miles north of Detroit. He earlier pleaded guilty to three counts of second-degree criminal sexual conduct, and apologized Thursday in court.
“I’d like to apologize to the victim, the victim’s families, my families, wife and children, the community and this court,” Gotwalt told the judge.