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Verdict in for ex Chestatee coach accused of sexual battery involving student
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Webster Daniel looks across Hall County State Court Tuesday, Oct. 19, 2021, during his trial on charges of sexual battery involving a student. The former Chestatee High School girls’ basketball coach is accused of engaging in unwanted sexual contact with a juvenile female, according to the Hall County Sheriff’s Office. - photo by Scott Rogers

A former Chestatee High School coach was convicted Friday of sexual battery of a 16-year-old student.

In addition, Webster Daniel, 46, was found guilty of three counts of simple battery and one count of simple assault. State Court Judge Larry Baldwin II imposed a five-year sentence with the first 12 months in jail.

One count of reckless conduct was dismissed.

Calling his actions “egregious,” Baldwin told Daniel, “even if you get past the criminal behavior, even just some of the things you admitted to … it’s not how a coach should act” with a student.

The judge also commented on the defense’s theory of the allegations being fabricated by the victim due to an affair Daniel had with the student’s mother.

"The jury didn't buy it,” Baldwin said. “Neither do I."

Following his jail term, the remainder of Daniel’s sentence may be served on probation.

He will receive credit for time served, but Baldwin said he would not immediately consider any early termination of the sentence.

Speaking through tears, the victim read a statement before sentencing about how the two years of high school following the Nov. 16, 2017, sexual battery became a “living hell.” Daniel was accused of touching the girl’s breasts and pushing his penis against her body.

“Rumors began to spread like wildfire, even though the majority of them weren’t even close to being the truth,” the girl told the judge, saying people began to turn their backs on her.

Now 20 years old, the victim said she has grown stronger from the ordeal.

Hall County Solicitor General Stephanie Woodard said she appreciated the jury’s work especially amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The case took nearly four years, partially due to a pause in trials out of concern for COVID.

“There was a lot of emotion from relief from the victim and of course the victim advocates and the attorneys that have put so much work into it,” Woodard said. “We’re grateful for that outcome for the victim.”

During sentencing, defense attorney Joseph Summer mentioned that Daniel had no previous criminal history. Daniel’s wife addressed the court during the hearing and said, “We know you didn’t do this.”

Baldwin admonished Daniel’s wife that it was not appropriate during the sentencing hearing to dispute the verdict but instead to offer mitigating reasons to inform the judge’s decision.

Daniel’s wife said they had heard from almost every player Daniel has coached since the allegations became public, telling the coach about how he made a difference in their lives.

“We’re disappointed by the verdict,” Summer said following sentencing. “My client still maintains his innocence.”

Summer also said they were “exploring possible issues for appeal” and wading through those issues in the coming weeks.

Baldwin also imposed conditions of probation that Daniel surrender his teaching license and “shall not teach, coach, officiate or mentor anyone under the age of 18.”

Woodard said the athletic associations will be notified of the crime and the circumstances surrounding it.

Daniel must also undergo a psychosexual evaluation and comply with any recommended treatment. 

The judge also left open the possibility of restitution.

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