SHAWNEE, Okla. (KFOR) — The trial of a former Shawnee High School coach and athletic director is underway in Pottawatomie County.
Ronald Gene Arthur is facing charges for engaging in communication for sexual interest with a former 17-year-old student through the app Grindr.
While the age of consent in Oklahoma is 16, the law also states it is illegal to solicit sex over technology to a person under the age of 18.
The student told the jury in 2021, when he was a 17-year-old student, he downloaded the app known for homosexual hook ups. They eventually learned each other’s identities and discussed sexual plans after the student graduated.
After graduation, the student told the jury they executed their plans.
Arthur’s defense attorneys argue the acts were consensual. However, the student argued he only met up with Arthur to “mentally break” himself, because he was thinking about taking his own life.
Although there is only one victim associated with this case, prosecutors said the coach shows a pattern of behavior. Two former students testified about their similar encounters with Arthur.
“It was traumatizing. It ruined my life,” Rob Hair told News 4, minutes after testifying. “It ruined my high school life.”
Hair said back in 2007, he was playing on Arthur’s high school basketball player. Hair said Arthur inappropriately touched him multiple times.
“My mother, and I, and my stepdad, we took it to the police department. We took it to the school administration. We took it to to the board. [We] thought we were going through the proper channels,” said Hair. “He was given a book to read on sensitivity.”
Defense attorneys questioned if it was typical locker room talk and actions.
Three years before Hair’s encounter, another former student testified that he unknowingly chatted with Arthur online. He was not doing well in school and was on the verge of not graduating.
While at school, the student said Arthur passed him a note that said he was the man the student was chatting with online. The student said Arthur threatened to ruin the student’s chances of graduating if he did not perform sexual acts with the coach/teacher. The student testified they met up at least ten times.
The former student said he told his school counselor three times, but nothing happened. He was ashamed to tell anyone else besides a close friend.
“It’s extremely difficult to come out. The shame,” said Delinda Curtis, Rob Hair’s mother.
Defense attorneys questioned the former students timeline from 18-years ago.
Hair and the other student believe there are more victims out there.
“Speak your truth, and people will have your back,” said Hair.