Victim: Softball coach's sex offenses a theft of innocence
Posted August 4, 2014 9:59 a.m. EDT
Updated August 4, 2014 6:08 p.m. EDT
Raleigh, N.C. — Jamie Ayers, who taught health and physical education and coached softball at Wakefield High School, faces at least 5 years in prison for a sexual relationship with a player.
Ayers pleaded guilty Monday morning to 11 counts of sex offense against a child.
"There is nothing more precious than a young girl's innocence, and that is exactly what he stole," his victim, now 19, told the court before Ayers' sentence was handed down.
The young woman said Ayers groomed her from the time she tried out for the softball team as a 14-year-old freshman.
She said she was thrilled when she made the varsity softball team and Ayers singled her out.
"He was the number one person I needed to impress," she said.
But she came to realize that his attentions were abusive.
"He stalked he groomed, he planned and he stole," she said.
Ayers got her a job at the pool where he worked and would drive her to and from her shifts. She said they had sex in his car, at the pool and on campus at Wakefield High School.
Ayers was arrested May 20, and he resigned from Wake County schools on June 13. Over the course of 15 years, Ayers held teaching and coaching positions at East Cary Middle School, Cary High School and Wakefield Middle School and Wakefield High School.
The young woman said she and Ayers had a sexual relationship that lasted for almost two years – from spring 2011 to early 2013 – and that, after she ended the relationship, he wrote her notes begging her to return.
The girl, who is now in therapy, said Ayers took advantage of turmoil in her home life – her parents were divorcing.
"I was the perfect prey," she said. "I hated myself for all the times I kept quiet and did what he asked.
"None of this was my fault," she said. "I was a student. I was a child."
Superior Court Judge Paul Ridgeway praised the young woman for coming forward to report Ayers and to testify at his sentencing hearing.
"You're an incredibly strong and brave young lady," Ridgeway said.
Ayers, too, had a chance to address the court. He asked for mercy in sentencing.
"I've lost everything that took so much hard work to receive: my family, my marriage, my freedom, my job, my house and my car," he said.
"I ask for your forgiveness," he concluded.
In addition to his prison sentence, Ayers must register as a sex offender for 30 years.