A former soccer coach sentenced to two years in prison for a sexual relationship with a teenage player will be required to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life.
Jeffrey Walden, 45, now of Knoxville, Tenn., pleaded no contest and was found guilty in March of two counts of felony sexual battery involving a Troy girl who was a member of one of his soccer teams. The relationship began when the girl was 15 and continued into her adulthood, police said.
Troy police said Walden was a coach of traveling teams and at one time coached a team in Brookville schools.
Walden was sentenced April 14 by Judge Christopher Gee in Miami County Common Pleas Court. A separate hearing to determine his sex offender classification was held Friday, April 18, before Gee.
After hearing testimony from a Troy police detective, Gee said Walden would be classified as a Tier III sex offender. The designation requires in-person registration with the sheriff’s office in the county where the offender lives, works or attends school every 90 days.
Walden’s registration will begin when he completes his prison term.
He made no comment during the classification hearing.
The hearing was held because the conduct occurred, according to the indictment against Walden, beginning in 2007 when the victim was 15 and continuing until she was an adult. Both the victim and Walden said the relationship continued for a time after the victim turned 18.
Detective Chris Tilley testified that the victim could not give specific dates and locations for offenses but said the early sexual activity occurred at Troy’s Duke Park followed by later activity in an area cemetery. The relationship was ongoing, he said, adding, “It was common place.”
During the years of the relationship, Ohio’s sex offender registration classification system was changed to a tier-based system with Tier III being the most restrictive level.
Gee found Walden would be classified under the existing classification system. He said Tennessee has a similar classification system.
At his sentencing Walden said he made the biggest mistake of his life when he began the relationship with the girl. He said he was not a threat to society and hoped that the girl "can find it in her heart to forgive me."
The victim told Gee she has tried to forget and move on, but instead suffers from anxiety, anger and depression. She read a written statement. "You are an adult ... Own up to your mistakes," she said to Walden.
Gee said Walden used his position of authority as a coach to foster the relationship. “He took advantage of her youth and her vulnerability” and assisted her in deceiving her mother, the judge said. The victim would continue “to carry the baggage of the perverted relationship,” Gee said.