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MailTribune.com
  • Ashland volunteer coach arrested for rape, assault

  • A former volunteer swim coach at Ashland High School was arrested Tuesday on multiple counts of felony rape and sexual assault stemming from his alleged conduct with a 14-year-old girl on the team.
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  • A former volunteer swim coach at Ashland High School was arrested Tuesday on multiple counts of felony rape and sexual assault stemming from his alleged conduct with a 14-year-old girl on the team.
    Camren M. Mitzel, 24, of Ashland, was being held in the Jackson County Jail on four counts of third-degree rape and four counts of second-degree sexual assault. His bail was set at $50,000, after Jackson County Circuit Court Judge Lorenzo Mejia raised the amount from $40,000 during Mitzel's arraignment Wednesday.
    Mejia warned Mitzel, who appeared via a video feed from jail, that he is to have no contact with the victim should he be released on bail.
    "And I mean no contact of any kind. Don't be in the neighborhood — nothing," Mejia told a somber Mitzel, who requested the assistance of an attorney.
    Mitzel is the son of AHS swim team's head coach, Steve Mitzel, who did not return phone messages left Wednesday.
    Ashland School District Athletic Director Karl Kemper also did not respond to messages left Wednesday.
    The Ashland School District issued a press release stating it "cannot comment on the details of this incident during the investigation."
    The release said Camren Mitzel is "currently not an employee or volunteer" for the district.
    Whether Camren Mitzel's tenure as a volunteer for the high school ended prior to his arrest has not been confirmed. Neither AHS Principal Michelle Zundel nor district Superintendent Jay Hummel responded to messages left Wednesday.
    An Ashland Police Department press release referred to Camren Mitzel as "a volunteer swim coach."
    Police Chief Terry Holderness said a several-week APD investigation determined that "no force was used" between Camren Mitzel and the victim, who was a freshman at the high school.
    Holderness said Camren Mitzel was charged with four counts for each alleged crime because "we can demonstrate there were four different acts" involving the victim.
    The four alleged acts took place on or between Oct. 2, 2012, and March 31, 2013, said Mejia. That period spans the 2012-2013 swim season at AHS.
    Holderness said the alleged crimes were reported to a separate agency, which then contacted APD to follow up with an investigation.
    "It was reported to us through the child abuse format ... somebody called us from a different agency," he said.
    The state Department of Human Services, Jackson County Developmental Disabilities Program and several other public and private organizations in the area maintain hotlines for reporting abuse.
    A preliminary hearing for Camren Mitzel is scheduled for Aug. 7 at 4 p.m. in Jackson County Circuit Court.
    Sam Wheeler is a freelance writer living in Ashland. Email him at samuelcwheeler@gmail.com.
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