A former Athens High School girls basketball coach will not get a new trial on a charge of using a computer to facilitate a child sex crime, after the state Supreme Court ruled against him this week.
Rory McKellips of Mosinee was 56 when he was charged with multiple child sex crimes in 2011, after the father of a 15-year-old girl coached by McKellips found a phone containing more than 2,000 text messages between the girl and her coach. The victim told police she and McKellips had a sexual relationship that began when she was 14 and lasted for months.
In an unusual split verdict, a jury in June 2013 convicted McKellips of using a computer to facilitate a child sex crime, but not of repeated sexual assault of a child. Marathon County Circuit Judge Mike Moran sentenced McKellips to 10 years in prison.
An appeals court ruled in March 2015 that prosecutors failed to prove that McKellips connected with the victim using a “computerized communication system” and that the state law defining that term is unconstitutionally vague, according to court documents. That decision cleared the way for McKellips to receive a new trial.
But on Monday, the state’s highest court reversed the appeals court decision and found that McKellips’ flip-style cell phone clearly falls under the definition of a computerized device.
“McKellips used his cellphone as a computer to send communications to the victim so that he could have sexual contact with her,” says Judge Rebecca Bradley, in her written opinion. “A person of ordinary intelligence would understand that using a cell phone to text or picture-message a child to entice sexual encounters violates that statute.”
McKellips is currently incarcerated in the New Lisbon Correctional Institution, where he will likely remain until 2023.