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Coach sentenced for raping player, 14

GOLD HILL — A Little League coach was sentenced Friday for raping a 14-year-old girl who played on his softball team.

Eric Robert Sell, 31, pleaded guilty in October to a charge of third-degree rape — a felony defined under Oregon law as sexual contact with a person who is too young to give consent.

Jackson County Circuit Court Judge Patricia Crain sentenced Sell to 30 days in jail and three years' supervised probation. He also must register as a sex offender, undergo sex abuse counseling, submit to HIV, DNA and polygraph testing, and have no contact with the victim or unsupervised visitation with minor children.

Crain ordered Sell, who declined to comment at his sentencing, to report to jail on his birthday, Jan. 21.

"You were in a position of trust," admonished Crain. "And you were willing to take advantage of your position. What does that say about you as a person?"

Sell met the victim while coaching the Gold Valley National Little League softball team in Gold Hill, police said. The girl told investigators that she and Sell had sexual contact several times in June and July.

The victim's mother spoke at Sell's sentencing, urging the court to give Sell "the strongest punishment" allowable under the law.

Choking back tears, she called her daughter a hero for coming forward "so that it wouldn't happen to anyone else."

Sell went on a self-destructive tailspin — which included a drunken driving arrest in July — following the death of a family member, said his attorney, Carl Caplan.

Sell originally was charged with three counts of third-degree rape and three counts of third-degree sex abuse.

"He has almost destroyed himself," said Caplan. "He's a marked person. A registered sex offender."

In a written statement from the victim read by David Hoppe, the Jackson County deputy district attorney, the girl said she has been called a "liar, slut and herpes" by schoolmates.

"This man has made my life a living wreck," she wrote. "Will this ever end? I pray to God to bring back my soul."

Her daughter continues to be victimized by threats of violence and character attacks from Sell's family members and friends, her mother said.

"My daughter shouldn't have to hold her head down," she said, adding she has filed a stalking complaint against Sell's family members.

The judge declined to hear from Sell's family at the sentencing, saying "they all seem to be in denial" of Eric Sell's admission of guilt.

Crain urged the mother to help her daughter understand that the incident should neither control her life nor define her as a person.

Reach reporter Sanne Specht at 776-4497 or e-mail sspecht@mailtribune.com.