- Jeremy P. Kelley Staff Writer
Former Dayton Public Schools classroom aide and coach Donte D. Murphy was sentenced this month to five years of probation after being found guilty of five felonies – forgery, tampering with government records and three counts of sexual battery.
The forgery and tampering charges stem from a doctored state permit that Murphy presented to Dayton Public Schools in order to continue coaching after his legitimate permit expired in 2014, according to Montgomery County Common Pleas Court records.
Dayton school officials believed Murphy’s new pupil activity permit was valid, sending a copy to the Dayton Daily News in 2016 as proof of his credentials. But they did not notice that the date and number on the license and the signature of the state superintendent did not match, issues uncovered after a Dayton Daily News investigation.
Montgomery County Common Pleas Court Judge Steven Dankof called the doctored permit “obviously bogus” in rendering his guilty verdicts in the bench trial.
Murphy, who had been a coach in Dayton Public Schools since 2009, was arrested in March 2014 for soliciting prostitution, according to court records. He eventually pleaded guilty to an amended charge of disorderly conduct with a requirement that he go to “Johns School.”
The district hired him as a classroom aide anyway in summer 2014 and he worked as an aide in 2014, 2015 and 2016 even though the Ohio Department of Education declined his application for an aide permit. He also remained a coach into 2016 despite ODE in October 2015 denying his coaching permit, citing the prostitution-related conviction.
The issues surrounding Murphy’s sexual battery conviction were complicated, in part because of the timing when he was finally fired in 2016 for not having valid certifications from the state.
He was officially fired from both of his roles at Ponitz Career Technology Center – classroom aide and track coach — by Dayton Public Schools on March 18, 2016, according to school and court records.
Prosecutors and Murphy’s attorney stipulated to the fact that Murphy, then 27, had consensual sexual intercourse with an 18-year-old Ponitz student-athlete twice in the month after that date.
If Murphy was not serving at the school at the time, the sex would not have been a crime, as the student was of legal age.
But court records show that despite being fired, Murphy did not stop coaching Ponitz’s track athletes. Dankof’s verdict said that Murphy coached “continuously and without interruption until May 4, 2016,” the date DPS officials confronted him about the sex allegations. In fact, when then-Athletic Director Jonas Smith contacted him that day, Murphy was at a Ponitz track practice.
The sexual battery law under which Murphy was convicted forbids sexual contact between a student and someone who is “a teacher, administrator, coach, or other person in authority employed by or serving in” an Ohio school.
In rendering the guilty verdicts, Dankof wrote that although he was no longer being paid by DPS at the time of the sexual contact, there is “no doubt” that Murphy was still serving as a school coach.
Montgomery County assistant prosecutor Kimberly Melnick argued in her sentencing memorandum that “a prison sentence is the only sentence that will adequately protect the public and punish the defendant.”
Defense attorney Anthony Cicero sought probation, arguing that the sex was consensual between adults, and that Murphy is still married, employed and seeking a graduate degree.
Murphy was sentenced to five years of probation, with the stipulation that he remain employed, complete treatment, avoid drugs, alcohol and firearms, and not have contact with the student-athlete in question.