, Deseret News
SALT LAKE CITY — The Cottonwood High School football coach accused of having inappropriate physical contact with a female student will not face criminal charges after prosecutors confirmed the student is 18 years old, district officials said.
Josh Lyman, 32, was placed on paid administrative leave April 18 after Granite School District officials said students reported inappropriate contact between the coach and a student.
"Because the alleged victim was 18 years of age, it appears it's not feasible to pursue criminal charges," said Ben Horsley, Granite School District spokesman. "However, because she is still a student, we continue to have administrative concerns with regards to professional conduct as a teacher and appropriate student/teacher interaction."
Lyman, through his attorney, has denied having any relationship or social contact with the student.
The Deseret News reported Friday that no charges would be filed, and Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill made official his final decision Monday not to prosecute.
"The information presented in the investigation provided evidence of contact between the student and Lyman," Gill wrote in a letter to the Granite School District. "However, the evidence did not support the conclusion that a crime was committed by Lyman against the student."
Gill said the evidence was insufficient to warrant a criminal charge. He also confirmed that the female student with whom Lyman allegedly had an inappropriate relationship was 18 years old, a legal adult.
"It really becomes issues of the type of contact, the nature of contact (and) the elements of an offense," Gill said. "If somebody is under 18, consent issues become irrelevant because you're under 18. Over 18, it alters the relationship, and it also changes the elements of the offense."
Lyman remains on leave pending an independent review of the allegations by the school district.
"There are two potential outcomes: Either he's reinstated or he is terminated," Horsley said. "Either way, we want to have sufficient information to demonstrate that was the appropriate decision."
Cottonwood High quarterback Cooper Bateman said the announcement that no criminal charges would be filed against his head coach came as a relief but not a surprise.
"We knew that's the way it was," Bateman said. "We all know Josh. We know the kind of guy he is. Everything he does is professional."
The junior QB said he and his teammates have done their best to keep their focus on the football field and not let the allegations involving Lyman distract them.
"We didn't put our heads down," he said. "We had to keep going to work. We know what our overall goal is. … We love Josh. We're behind him 100 percent. But we have an upcoming season to play, and that's our main focus."
Still, Bateman said the Colts want their coach back on the practice field.
"He's still not back to school yet, and we want him here," he said. "We're rooting for it, and we're hoping to see him back here soon.
Defense attorney Ed Brass said the coach knows the girl from school but denies having any social contact with her.
"It's been terrible for him. You can imagine what it would be like to be accused of these things with no basis for the accusation," Brass said last week after he was informed that no charges would be filed against Lyman. "I don't know where you go to get (your reputation) repaired."
Brass said many people have come forward offering support for Lyman.
"I've been extremely impressed by the sheer number of people who … tell me that they have daughters who were students of his and said there was never anything inappropriate," he said. "They were willing to stand behind him and act as character witnesses. There were people who were willing to set up defense funds for him.
"The Cottonwood High School community, it seems to me, in general, has stood fairly solidly behind him."
Lyman, a former wide receiver at the University of Utah, was promoted from assistant to head coach prior to the 2010 season. He graduated from Skyline High School in 1998 and was part of three state title teams. He played football at Dixie State College before walking on at Utah.