A former basketball coach at Piute High School has been charged with rape, accused of sexually assaulting a then-16-year-old student.

Lawson Rashad Sweat is scheduled to appear in Junction's 6th District Court on Feb. 25 to face two charges of rape, a first-degree felony. According to an affidavit filed with the criminal charges, Piute County Sheriff's deputies began an investigation last year into allegations that Sweat, 29, had been having sexual relations with a student at the school.

A now 18-year-old woman told authorities that in the fall of 2005, she confided in Sweat about problems in her life. Piute County Sheriff's deputy Matt Whittaker wrote in court papers that Sweat invited her and a friend over to his house one night, while Sweat's wife was out of town.

"Mr. Sweat provided both girls with beer and watched movies," Whittaker wrote.

The friend left around 10 p.m., but deputies said the girl stayed with Sweat, drank more beer and watched more movies.

"Later, Mr. Sweat began to kiss the victim and started to remove her clothes. The girl objected telling Mr. Sweat 'no' and telling him it was wrong," Whittaker wrote. "Mr. Sweat told her it was OK and that she could trust him. He continued to remove her clothes and when she attempted to leave Mr. Sweat held her shoulders down."

Sheriff's deputies allege that during the sexual assault, Sweat's phone rang and he stopped to answer it.

"After hanging up the telephone, he had sexual intercourse with the victim a second time," Whittaker wrote.

An arrest warrant was issued for Sweat, whom court records indicate surrendered to authorities on Feb. 1. He was released from jail pending his next court appearance.

Sweat worked four years for the Piute School District, teaching P.E. and English, district business administrator Carma Brindley said.

"He has resigned and left the area," she said. "Our local law enforcement is investigating."

A telephone number for Sweat could not be found. Court records indicate he does not yet have an attorney to represent him.

The State Office of Education is investigating Sweat for allegations of sexual misconduct involving a female student. The commission that recommends teacher licensing action has scheduled an April hearing on the issue.

The Utah Professional Practices Advisory Commission also put the investigation into its teacher database. That means a potential employer who checks the man's teaching license on the state database would get a pop-up box directing the viewer to contact UPPAC before proceeding, she said.

"He's flagged right now," commission attorney Jean Hill said.


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