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Former South Medford teacher admits to abusing teen

A former South Medford High School physical education teacher, Noah Scott Berman, 31, pleaded guilty Tuesday in Jackson County Circuit Court to two felony counts of second-degree sexual abuse and a single felony count of witness tampering.

Berman admitted that he subjected a female student to sexual contact between November 2019 and May 2020, then told the victim not to disclose the crime to investigators.

Four misdemeanor counts of third-degree sexual abuse were dropped with Berman’s guilty pleas, court records show. Berman will be sentenced at a hearing scheduled for Aug. 17.

Berman — who was a champion Phoenix High School wrestler — taught physical education and was an assistant wrestling coach until his arrest on the sexual abuse charges in the spring of 2020.

The abuse investigation began April 25, 2020, when police received an anonymous tip through SafeOregon.org. The school district placed Berman on administrative leave April 27, and Medford police arrested Berman on May 14.

Court records show that Berman paid 10% bond on his $45,000 bail.

He risked going back to jail earlier this spring after a polygraph test found him to be “clearly and conclusively deceptive” when he answered “no” to a question about whether he’d been alone with any juveniles since August of 2020, according to an earlier news report.

Deputy District Attorney Zori Cook had a hearing surrounding Berman’s alleged violation of his release agreement dropped July 12, citing Berman’s intent to change his plea later in the month.

According to a plea petition signed Tuesday by Berman, his defense lawyer Justin Rosas and Judge pro tem Paul Moser, Berman faces a maximum five years in prison and fines of $125,000 for each of the three felony counts.

As terms of the negotiated plea agreement, however, Cook will recommend a jail and probation sentence, along with “standard sex offender conditions,“ according to the plea petition.

The recommended sentence includes 90 days in jail with no early release, five years of probation, no contact with the victim, the forfeiture of Berman’s teaching license, that Berman comply with treatment recommended by a probation officer, and that Berman pay a yet-to-be-determined restitution.

Berman would face 24 months in prison if he violates terms of his probation, the recommended sentence states.

Reach reporter Nick Morgan at 541-776-4471 or nmorgan@rosebudmedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @MTCrimeBeat.