Former Catawba coach Ralph Wager’s molestation trial to begin
The trial for former Catawba College soccer coach Ralph Wager, charged in 2012 and accused of molesting two boys more than 30 years ago, is expected to begin today with jury selections.
The trial, which is scheduled for two weeks, will be presided over by Superior Court Judge Erwin Spainhour and will likely include a lengthy jury selection process due to the media attention the case has received. A change of venue had been requested, but denied.
Wager is charged with six counts of felony indecent liberties with a child, three counts of felony first-degree sex offense involving a child and three counts of felony crimes against nature.
The accusations against Wager came to light in 2012 after a victim, who was about 9 years old at the time of the alleged incidents, contacted Rowan County Sheriff’s officials. The victim told authorities he’d been molested by the former coach on a number of occasions, including in 1987 and again in 1989. He searched Wager’s name online and discovered he was working with children in a Charlotte youth soccer league, which prompted him to come forward.
The first victim’s mother made college officials aware of the allegations in the 1980s.
After the victim came forward and investigators began looking into the accusations, another victim was identified through an investigation by Catawba College.
The second victim told investigators he was molested between June and July 1990 when he was 13 years old.
In July 2012, New York investigators were notified about a possible victim who accused Wage of abuse in the 1960s. Wager was a soccer and swim coach and taught at Webster Thomas High School in Webster, N.Y., from 1967 until 1983. The school is located near Rochester. New York officials have said the statute of limitations has expired in their case. However, in North Carolina there are no statute of limitations regarding felony offenses.
The Rowan victims say the abuse occurred at Wager’s on-campus house, his office and at one of the victim’s houses.
In July 1990 it was reported that Wager left the college for health reasons, which has since been confirmed to be untrue. It was revealed during a June 2013 hearing that he resigned four months after the college asked him to leave.
Wager has been under electronic house arrest since he posted bond in August 2012.
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