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Thursday, April 19 News

Former Staples swim coach faces 8 years in prison for sexually assaulting girls

The former swim coach at Staples High School faces up to eight years in prison after pleading guilty Monday to repeated sexual assaults on two young Fairfield girls over a three-year period.

Jeffrey Schare of Fairfield pleaded guilty before state Superior Court Judge Robert Devlin to two counts of first-degree sexual assault, two counts of risk of injury to a minor and one count of fourth-degree sexual assault. Devlin said he would impose the eight-year term along with requiring lifetime sex offender registration when Schare is sentenced Oct. 3.

Neither Schare nor his lawyer, John Gulash, would comment as they left the courthouse.

Schare, 44, was coach of the Wreckers' boys swimming and diving team for seven years, and also taught math at Staples.

Police said both victims, who are now 12 and 9, are acquainted with Schare and attend school in Fairfield. The older girl first complained about the assaults to a counselor at her school.

Supervisory Assistant State's Attorney Cornelius Kelly said when the girls' mother confronted Schare with her daughters' accusations, Schare admitted sexually assaulting the children. Kelly said Schare also admitted the assaults to a friend, who went to police.

Schare began "grooming" the two girls when they were much younger, "promising favors such as food and sleep-overs as rewards for his deviant behavior," according to the arrest warrant affidavit.

The affidavit states he began touching the girls inappropriately, which encouraged him to do more: "A behavior he readily admitted to his wife was a lust for younger girls, an urge that he could no longer control."

Valerie Wilke, a licensed social worker, was later arrested after Kelly said Wilke, who had counseled the two girls after the assaults, did not report the assaults to police as she is required to do by law. She also did not tell the girls' mother, officials said.

Wilke is charged with failure to report abuse or neglect, and interfering with a police officer.