Meridian, Miss. A judge has finally handed down a sentence to former Clarkdale softball coach Rick Roberson of 12 years jail time and 5 years probation. He charged with two counts exploitation of a child and one count lustful touching of a child. While deputies led him out, Roberson spoke to us about why he thinks his sentence is not deserved.
"Just for once, I challenge you to report the things I was actually accused of," Roberson says. "I was accused of having a conversation, I was accused of buying candy and lotion, I was accused of touching someone on the leg, and for that I was given 12 years in pen."
Roberson could have been facing as much as 95 years in prison. Twelve years is the minimum jail time that the state allows for these charges. But district attorney Bilbo Mitchell says his sentence time was expected.
"That's pretty much what I expected because those were the minimum sentences. Coach Roberson was in his 60s," Mitchell explains. "I never expected Judge Williamson to want him to serve a life sentence."
But Roberson's attorney requested that he not see any jail time.
Throughout the sentencing, Roberson's attorney brought forth friends and family who recommended a probationary sentencing, based on health reasons.
Roberson's wife confirmed his ongoing struggles with chemotherapy, radiation and dietary restrictions, saying a jail sentence would be a death sentence. His attorney also brought several others to the stand who recommended he not be put in jail, including one of the recent victims.
"They have special units for people who are sick," Mitchell says. "Like Judge Williamson said on the bench, we sentence people every day who are sick."
Roberson was given 10 years for both count 1 and count 2, which will run concurrently, and 2 years for count 3, with 5 years probation after his release. He was acquitted of three other similar charges.
Roberson was one of the most successful softball coaches in the country before his arrest and firing in 2012.
His teams won four fast-pitch titles and seven slow-pitch title in his 25-year coaching career.