Former High School Coach Guilty in Sex Assault Trial
Relationship with Student a 'Betrayal' of Girl's Trust

By Michael Deak
Daily Record
December 7, 2007

Former Immaculata High School girls basketball and girls lacrosse coach Pamela Balogh is facing five to 10 years in state prison after she was found guilty Thursday on four of five counts in her trial for sexually assaulting one of her students.

The jury found Balogh, 40, not guilty of the most serious charge, first-degree sexual assault of a minor under 16. If convicted of that charge, Balogh could have faced 10 to 20 years in prison with a requirement to serve at least 85 percent of that sentence.

Balogh's $100,000 bail was revoked by Superior Court Judge Edward M. Coleman following the verdict. Balogh, of Bethlehem, Pa., showed no emotion as she was led away in handcuffs to the Somerset County Jail after the jury delivered its verdict. The jury deliberated Wednesday afternoon and Thursday morning.

Pamela Balogh, shown in 2006, was found guilty on Thursday of sexually assaulting one of her former students.

No date has been set for Balogh's sentencing, though her lawyer, James Wronko, said it might be in nine to 10 months because of delays at the Adult Diagnostic and Treatment Center in Woodbridge, the state facility for sex offenders.

The student, now a freshman at college, and her family and friends were in the courtroom to hear the verdict given shortly before noon.

The student's mother said she was proud her daughter had the courage to go to the authorities and testify in the trial, which she said centered on a "betrayal of trust."

"I'm glad I'm getting my daughter back," the mother said.

The student, who has to take final exams at college in two weeks, said her life gradually is getting better since she went to the authorities about the relationship a year ago.

"I've had the support of my family and friends and a lot of people who love me," she said.

The student, who testified in the trial that her life was centered around athletics when she entered Immaculata, where she played three sports, said she no longer plays sports because they serve as a "trigger" for remembering her relationship with Balogh.

"It's what I miss most," she said. "I hope sports will become a part of my life again."

The student said she was motivated to go the authorities because "I didn't want anyone else to go through what I went through."

Wronko, who in his opening statement to the jury predicted Balogh would be found guilty on some counts, said he was "very happy with the verdict."

He said the Somerset County Prosecutor's Office could have avoided a trial by agreeing to drop the first-degree count in exchange for Balogh pleading guilty to the other counts.

Somerset County Prosecutor Wayne Forrest said it is the policy of the office not to comment on jury verdicts.

Under a plea agreement she rejected this summer, Balogh would have pleaded guilty to the first-degree charge but would have been sentenced as a second-degree offender.

The key question for the jury was the nature of the relationship before the student turned 16 in February 2005.

Balogh admitted in testimony Tuesday that she and the student had a sexual relationship but said the relationship escalated during lacrosse season which began in mid-March after the student's 16th birthday.

The student testified the first act that would have constituted sexual assault occurred during basketball season, but did not give a specific date.

Under Balogh's guidance, Immaculata's girls basketball team reached the Somerset County Tournament final seven consecutive seasons, including five straight championships from 1998 to 2002. Overall, the Spartans appeared in the county finals 10 times during Balogh's 12 seasons, winning seven times.

Balogh was hired by North Hunterdon High School in Clinton Township as a teacher and coach. She since has been suspended from the district.


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