NINNEKAH, Okla. (KFOR) – Ninnekah Public Schools’ high school and junior high school girls basketball coach has pleaded guilty to multiple child sex crime charges.
Ronald Akins, now 56, has pleaded guilty to two counts of sexual battery, two counts of rape by instrumentation, four counts of lewd or indecent acts to a child under 16, one count of sexual battery and one count of attempted rape in the first degree.
“This was a girls basketball coach at a school that had an excellent basketball program who was abusing his players. If you don’t think that’s happening in our other school districts, then you are blind to our situation,” said the victims’ attorney, Cameron Spradling.
The allegations of sex abuse involving Akins started in 2009 with then-13-year-old, Shelby Boyd.
“I just knew that he had done it before and he was going to do it again. I really wanted to look out for anybody else that he might be impacting,” Boyd told KFOR.
Court records show Akins first isolated Boyd in a Friends Public Schools gym and asked, “What would you do if I kissed you?”
Akins’ behavior quickly escalated to predatory, according to court documents.
Akins is accused of forcibly kissing, groping, and instrumentally raping Boyd.
Boyd claims she reported Akins’ behavior to the Grady County Sheriff’s Department in 2015.
“[Phillip] Blevins (a Grady County Sheriff’s Office Deputy) told S.B. that the District Attorney would never prosecute Akins without a corroborating witness, which he described as another girl who had been sexually assaulted. Blevins therefore refused to present charges to the District Attorney,” court records read.
As Boyd found out about another alleged victim, she reportedly notified the Sheriff’s Office but claims no further action took place.
A federal lawsuit lays out a timeline following Boyd’s experience.
From 2013 to 2021, a total of 14 Jane Does came forward with similar stories of sex abuse. The girls now range from ages 15 to 20.
“Each year there was someone coming forward and sharing a story of abuse, and they did nothing,” stated Spradling. “If you don’t think that’s happening in our other school districts, then you are blind to our situation.”
Akins was arrested in June 2021 after a former Ninnekah student notified the Grady County Sheriff’s Office about allegations against Akins.
“After interviewing the former student there was enough evidence to conduct an interview with Mr. Akins,” Undersheriff Gary Boggess said.
They tried to interview him, but he refused to talk to them.
A former team member spoke to KFOR anonymously later that month, saying she was not surprised with the arrest.
“He knew we genuinely cared about our sport and used that to his advantage to make his move, make comments about our body parts, talk to us about the women he was dating or sleeping with,” she said. “He told several players that he had a crush on them or that if he were our boyfriend that he would treat us better than our current boyfriends do.”
The case has brought allegations against the school staff, administration and the sheriff’s office itself.
In August 2021, the Ninnekah Public Schools Board of Education accepted the resignations of two of its members as well as approved the suspension of two of the school’s leaders.
Grady County Sheriff Jim Weir requested assistance from the OSBI for the investigation after a federal lawsuit was filed, claiming the sheriff’s office and leaders at Ninnekah Public Schools and Friend Public Schools showed “deliberate indifference to credible reports” that Akins had a sexual relationship with one or more students at Ninnekah and Friend schools, and that their indifference allowed Akins to prey upon the girls at the schools.
The Oklahoma Board of Education voted unanimously in Sept. 2021 to place the school district on probation for their handling of the allegations against Akins, saying the district did not have a clear Title IX policy at the time of the alleged sexual abuse.
The Ninnekah Superintendent Michael Bunch, who was also named in the lawsuit, had his teaching license suspended, but it was reinstated after he challenged the decision. Akins’ license was also suspended.
Eventually, Bunch was ousted and Ninnekah hired a new Superintendent.
Now, Akins has pleaded guilty in the criminal case against him.
He accepted a plea agreement of 15 years in prison and 25 years on probation following his release.
Per state law, Akins must complete at least 85% of his sentence which means he’ll be at least 68 years old once he gets out. Akins won’t be off probation until he’s 96 years old.
Spradling said there has been push back on the plea agreement, but he claims this is one of the “strongest” sentences he has ever seen in a child sex abuse case involving an Oklahoma school faculty member.
“We don’t have justice. You can’t have justice stealing the innocence of a child. You can’t,” stated Spradling. “Sending him to prison does not prevent a suicide attempt or a successful suicide. Those are the risks that we have now. That’s the truth. I hate to say that.”
Boyd also wrote a statement to the Grady County Judge overseeing the case saying, “I’m sure Mr. Akins thought that the fear, shame, and guilt would keep me silent, but he was wrong. I chose to stand up for those who have suffered at his hands and fight for the justice that we all so desperately deserve. He has deserved this for a very long time. While I am relieved at this fact, I can’t help but draw your attention to the lifetime sentence the survivors will endure from the physical, emotional, and psychological trauma he so deliberately inflicted upon us.”
Boyd also said Akins stole her innocence and significantly impacted my understanding/view of what love is supposed to feel and look like.
Another victim, Tristan Baker read her victim impact statement aloud in court on Thursday.
The Judge told her she could sit or stand anywhere in the courtroom to read her statement. She chose a spot where Aikens could see her face.
“I hope God wrestles with you,” she said.
Baker told Aikens he let her down and truly made her believe he loved her.
“I believe things happen for a reason,” added Baker.
The federal lawsuit is still ongoing and is expected to begin trial in December or January.
“The federal lawsuit is about holding those people accountable in this school district, accountable for having kept this a secret,” added Spradling.
Spradling is also calling out State Superintendent Ryan Walters for not taking action as quickly as his predecessor in multiple child sex abuse cases, including Wewoka’s Cody Barlow.
“We may be ranked last in education, but I can tell you we rate first in child sex abuse in our schools,” exclaimed Spradling.
Within the next five days, the federal lawsuit will be amended and include the names of all 14 Jane Does.
Some victims will not be part of the federal lawsuit, including Boyd because her case falls outside the statute of limitations, according to Spradling.
He’s hopeful the Legislature will look at moving bills along during next session that would include victims like Boyd in legal matters.