Last Modified: Wednesday, May 30, 2012 7:04 PM
HOUMA (AP) — The former Ellender High School football coach is being sued by parents that claim he sexually abused their daughter.
Timothy Betts was arrested on the high school's campus after the allegations arose. At the time, Betts was a teacher at the East Street Alternative School as well as Ellender's coach. Superintendent Philip Martin said Betts has since resigned from the schools.
Betts, who is free from jail on a $100,000 bond, faces charges of indecent behavior with a juvenile and sexual battery. If convicted of both, he faces up to 17 years in prison.
Betts and the girl were in a relationship, investigators said. The girl is now 16-years-old.
Betts' criminal case is still pending and is set for trial next month in Judge Randy Bethancourt's courtroom. Last week, the girl's parents filed a suit in Terrebonne District Court against Betts and the school board, seeking an unnamed amount of money for damages, court papers say.
The suit, which is assigned to Judge Timothy Ellender, says the relationship between Betts and the teen started with text messages in May 2011, as he was intending "to encourage a sexual relationship." During this time, hundreds of texts, pictures and videos were exchanged between the pair, the suit says.
The pair then engaged in sexual activity on June 9, 2011, on school grounds, the suit says.
After finding out about the sex, the teen's father met with the school's administration to file a complaint. Instead, the suit says he "was encouraged to not pursue any criminal charges against Coach Betts and instead allow the school administration to reprimand Coach Betts and move on."
Chuck Bourque, the family's attorney, declined to comment on the case.
The suit says Betts "held a position of authority, exercised custodial control" over the teen and took advantage of the situation. It also claims the school board is responsible, as Betts' actions happened on school grounds, and the board failed to investigate the situation.
The plaintiffs are seeking an unnamed amount of money and request a jury trial.
Responses from Betts and the school board have not been filed.
Harold Register Jr., Betts' attorney, declined to comment, saying the case is still ongoing. Martin said he could not comment on pending litigation.
Betts went to work for Terrebonne public schools several years ago, Martin said, serving as head coach at Oaklawn Junior High in Houma for two years.
Prior to going to work for the school system, Betts passed a routine background check required of all new employees, Martin said last year.