Colorado coach sentenced 12 years for raping preteen girl, 1 of at least 8 victims

Craig Debiase. Photo courtesy 18th Judicial District Attorney's Office.
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ARAPAHOE COUNTY, Colo. (KKTV) - More justice was served nearly two decades after a Colorado coach raped a student. A second prison term was handed out to a man who pleaded guilty to sexual abuse of a preteen.

The 18th Judicial District Attorney's Office announced a new sentence for Craig Debiase on Wednesday. Accusations about Debiase and underage victims started to come to light in 2005. At that time, he entered into a plea agreement and served less than two years in prison. In 2005, one of his victims, a 14-year-old girl at the time, denied any involvement with Debiase.

On Oct. 25 of this year, the now 31-year-old victim was ready to confront her rapist, according to the district attorney's office.

“He preyed on us,” the victim told Judge John Scipione. “He is a repeat sex offender and has never been appropriately punished for what he has done.”

The victim said the sexual assault started in 2002 when she would have been a preteen.

The judge handed down the maximum legal sentence Oct. 25 following a plea agreement in which prosecutors dropped 10 additional counts of sexual assault of a child.

Prosecutors say there were at least eight victims.

Debiase was first sentenced in 2005 to 15 years-to-life after pleading guilty to abusing girls. He was released on probation in 2007 after serving 16 months.

“It is impossible to address the lifelong impacts that come from being abused and manipulated,” the 31-year-old woman told Arapahoe District Court Judge John Scipione. “This was a debilitating relationship, all about control and manipulation. I was 31 before I was able to accept that what he did to me was not love but was rape.”

The victim was a student at Bishop Machebeuf High School where Debiase coached.

Debiase “got a gift back in 2005,” the judge said. “He sought therapy and you lived in your own private hell these 17 years. This is despicable – some of the worst cases are in the name of the church and perpetrated against children. The maximum sentence is a no-brainer for me.”

District Attorney George Brauchler noted that this case is an example of why there is no statute of limitations for such crimes against children.

“Predators seek out safe places to have access to their victims, including our children,” Brauchler said. “They try to hide their lascivious actions by counting on the shame and guilt of their hand-picked victims, leaving them to struggle for the rest of their lives after the gross betrayal of trust. Here, it was only the courage of the victim — even 17 years later — that brought this child sex offender to justice. I hope justice for this victim helps in her healing process and serves as a light for others who have experienced the trauma of sexual assault.”