November 14, 2009
EASTON — The parents of a 14-year-old boy said Thursday they pray for the former Freemansburg-Bethlehem Township Athletic Association coach who tried to sexually assault their son.
In statements read in Northampton County Court, the victim's parents said they hope for the redemption of Daniel Schaefer, 44, of Bethlehem Township.
"I will never stop praying for you," the victim's mother said through tears.
Schaefer, wearing an orange prison jumpsuit and eyeglasses, cried throughout much of the sentencing.
"I don't believe I could ever be as kind as they are to you. I couldn't do what they're doing," Northampton County Judge Emil Giordano said.
Giordano then sentenced Schaefer to the maximum sentence, six to 15 years in state prison.
Giordano forbade Schaefer from having unsupervised contact with minors and banned him from coaching or visiting at any youth sports complex. He will also have to pay for his victim's counseling.
Schaefer will be required to register as a sex offender for 10 years under Pennsylvania's version of Megan's Law once he is released.
Schaefer was arrested in October 2008 after reports he molested the boy from January through June 2008 at Schaefer's home.
He pleaded guilty to felony criminal attempt to commit aggravated indecent assault and misdemeanor corruption of a minor.
"I am truly sorry for what I have done and I will get the help that I need," Schaefer said as he cried in court.
The victim was not in the courtroom Thursday, but his parents spoke about the difficult road their son has faced since the abuse, including students at school talking about him and taunting him.
"I'm different now," the victim wrote in a statement read by his mother in court. "I hate thinking people I don't even know are talking about me."
The victim's mother said her son went from having an innocent and carefree attitude, to becoming dark, angry and withdrawn. "No child should have to suffer this way," the victim's mother said.
Schaefer left his position as coach for the athletic group's Junior Legion baseball team about a month before his arrest. He resigned from his post as vice president of the Lehigh Valley Junior Legion Baseball League a week before he was charged.
Schaefer also served as a junior varsity coach at Liberty High School for 12 years, former Liberty coach Harry Dudeck said Thursday at the sentencing.
"He was a very positive influence in the lives of those young men," Dudeck said.