Former SHS soccer coach takes Alford plea in solicitation case

Stephen E. Wallace

Former Somerset High School coach and teacher Stephen Edward Wallace took an Alford plea to resolve misdemeanor charges of Solicitation of Prostitution in Pulaski District Court on Wednesday morning.

An Alford plea is essentially a guilty plea in criminal court, but the defendant maintains innocence while acknowledging that there is sufficient evidence to convict him or her if the case goes to trial.

Wallace, 50, was arrested in April by Somerset Police in connection to a January 7 incident that involved him contacting a 17-year-old female through Facebook Messenger using an account in the name of "Sam Jones."

The female's boyfriend allegedly replied back, pretending to be the female and stating during the conversation that "she is 21 years old."

Wallace was accused of proposing a physical relationship in exchange for money. His arrest warrant quotes Wallace as saying, "I can't make you rich but I can give you $75 per meeting."

The warrant went on to say, "The defendant in this case was a teacher at Somerset High School at the time of the offense. The 17 year old girl he contacted was a former student of his."

Wallace, still using the fake "Sam Jones" account, was also accused of contacting the juvenile's mother -- asking if she needed money and if she was willing to meet with him. They reportedly exchanged photographs. The female sent photos of herself fully clothed while Wallace sent one that was graphic in nature.

The warrant quoted SPD Detective Larry Patterson as saying that when he spoke with Wallace, "The Defendant admitted to me that he uses the Sam Jones Facebook account to meet women. The defendant told me that he never solicited sex for money, that he just likes to help people out with money."

Wallace spent 19 years as a boys high school soccer coach and almost 25 years total coaching several different sports. He resigned from both coaching and teaching last February, citing health issues.

In exchange for Wallace's change of plea, the Pulaski County Attorney's Office recommended that Wallace be sentenced to 30 days in jail but that sentence would be pretrial diverted for 12 months. Assistant County Attorney Kenton Lanham noted the terms of the plea agreement included that Wallace not have any contact with the victim or her family.

Should Wallace successfully complete the pretrial diversion with no violations of law or other conditions of the agreement, the conviction would be expunged from his record.

Wallace was defended by local attorney Joseph Venters, who pointed out that Wallace cut off contact when he learned the girl was 17.

(Commonwealth Journal Editor Jeff Neal contributed to this article.)

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