SHAWNEE − A former Shawnee Public Schools assistant athletic director was convicted Friday of a sex crime in a case that may have helped Ryan Walters win the state schools superintendent race.
A jury found Ronald Gene Arthur, 53, guilty of a felony for sexting a teenager in 2021.
Jurors chose five years in prison and a $3,500 fine as punishment. He showed no emotion as the verdict was read.
Arthur was the boys’ basketball coach for 16 seasons in Shawnee before stepping down in 2020.
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He resigned as assistant athletic director of Shawnee Public Schools in 2021 after coming under investigation. He had held that position for six years.
The victim testified he was 17 at the time. He said they met up twice for oral sex after communicating over their cellphones through the Grindr app. The first time was days after his graduation from Shawnee High School.
Arthur went by the user name “Older For Younger” on Grindr. He admitted in an interview with the Pottawatomie County undersheriff he knew the app was for hookups.
Case comes into play during Oklahoma state schools superintendent race
The criminal case impacted the race for Oklahoma’s top education position because a Republican candidate, April Grace, was the Shawnee school superintendent at the time.
She faced intense criticism after Arthur’s arrest over her handling of past complaints about him.
Walters beat Grace in the 2022 GOP primary runoff when he got 53% of the vote.
Shawnee coach convicted, punishment selected
Jurors notified the judge by buzzer that they had a verdict only 49 minutes after leaving the courtroom to deliberate.
Arthur was convicted of engaging in communication for sexual or prurient interest with a minor by use of technology.
The law prohibits sexual communications over cellphones with anyone under 18 even though the age of consent for sex in Oklahoma is 16.
The maximum punishment for the crime is 10 years in prison and a $10,000 fine. Arthur did not testify.
This is a developing story and will be updated.
This article originally appeared on Oklahoman: Jury finds former Shawnee coach and assistant athletic director guilty
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