Youth wrestling coach gets 10 years for assaults on bus in Mo.

Friday, January 4, 2008

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) -- A Texas youth wrestling coach was sentenced to 10 years in prison Thursday for molesting two wrestlers on a charter bus as they headed back from a national meet.

Timothy Daniel Morriss, 44, of Weir, Texas, must serve 10 years of supervised release after serving the prison time. During his sentencing in federal court in Kansas City, Morriss also was ordered to pay more than $51,000 in restitution to the two female victims.

The girls, who were 16 at the time of the July 2005 incident, were sexually assaulted as their bus traveled through Missouri on the way back to Texas. They had competed and won at a junior national championship in Fargo, N.D.

Morriss pleaded guilty in the case in December 2006, but prosecutors said his sentencing was delayed because of a dispute over how much he should pay in restitution. Part of the money goes toward counseling and medical expenses for the victims.

Don Ledford, spokesman for the U.S. attorney's office in Kansas City, said Thursday that prosecutors had sought nearly $100,000 in restitution at one point.

Although he was indicted on three counts, Morriss pleaded guilty to only one charge -- coercing a minor to engage in illicit sexual activity. The case went to federal court because the assaults happened on a bus that crossed state lines on an interstate highway, Ledford said.

Public defenders representing Morriss could not be reached for comment Thursday.

Morriss was the owner of The Rock Wrestling Club in Leander, Texas. He was one of the coaches of Texas USA Wrestling in Fort Worth, Texas, which organized the team that went to North Dakota.

According to court records, he was one of several adults traveling with a group of 23 female high school-age wrestlers from the Team Texas delegation of the USA Wrestling League.

The assaults happened at night. According to court records, Morriss covered himself and the girls up with a sleeping bag and then sexually assaulted them as the bus traveled down the highway.

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