Victim testifies coach had sexual relationship with her for 3 years beginning when she was 16 - East Idaho News
Crime Watch

Victim testifies coach had sexual relationship with her for 3 years beginning when she was 16

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SODA SPRINGS — Only one testimony was heard during Wednesday’s preliminary hearing in the case against a former Soda Springs High School coach accused of rape.

For roughly an hour, the victim described how she began a sexual relationship with her former basketball coach, Wade Lee Schvaneveldt, when she was 16. That relationship continued for three years until a friend told her the relationship was not what the victim believed it to be.

The victim said that Schvaneveldt began text messaging and calling her when she was 14. He offered support and comfort. She believed that she and the then-42-year-old married father were in love.

“He made me feel safe; he made me feel loved,” she said, sitting on the witness stand. “It started when I was a freshman. I remember telling my friends I felt like I had a boyfriend.”

RELATED | Former Soda Springs coach charged with 20 counts of rape

Following the testimony, Magistrate Judge David Cousin determined that evidence existed to justify a trial and bound Schvaneveldt over to district court.

Schvaneveldt, 52, is charged with 20 counts of rape. Each count carries a potential life sentence.

Wade Schvaneveldt
Wade Schvaneveldt | Soda Springs Police Department

According to the testimony of the victim, her sexual relationship with Schvaneveldt began on Feb. 19, 2014. As she explained in court, the date is important for two reasons: It was the day that she and her teammates won a big game in the girl’s state basketball tournament in Boise; it was also the day she lost her virginity — to Schvaneveldt.

That began a relationship that lasted three years, she said, during which she and Schvaneveldt engaged in sexual intercourse around 100 times.

Some of those sexual interactions occurred on the Soda Springs High School campus, when she would leave class to visit the basketball coach in his office. Other times, she would sneak into Schvaneveldt’s home while his family was at church or out of town.

“That was one of our main times when we could have sex and know that we weren’t going to get caught by his (family),” the victim said of her visits to Schvaneveldt’s farm on Sundays. “His (family was) away at church, and he was at the farm with me.”

For her senior project, the victim said, she was tasked with raising a steer. Schvaneveldt offered his farm to help the victim with the project. That provided an opportunity to have sex under the guise of working with her animal.

“Most of the time, I didn’t really work on my steer,” she said. “We would send (Schvaneveldt’s son) off on the four-wheeler then hurry and do a quickie.”

She said they did that “more than 20 times” in one month.

Allen Browning, Schvaneveldt’s defense attorney, did not call any witnesses, and he also declined to give a closing argument. He instead relied on cross-examination of the victim to prove his case.

His questioning seemed to be focused on whether the sexual acts were truly undertaken while the victim was underage. He also asked about a police investigation that was opened after the victim came clean about the relationship with a family member.

According to Browning, when asked during that investigation if she and Schvaneveldt had ever had sex, the victim told investigators she had not.

The victim agreed that she had told police investigators she was not involved in a sexual relationship with Schvaneveldt.

“I said it because I was scared. I was in love. I didn’t want anything to get ruined between the two of us,” she said. “I was scared. … It was a lie.”

She said Schvaneveldt gave her rules against keeping journals or saving text conversations. As she added, the two only communicated over text for a short time before switching to using Snapchat — a communication platform that erases messages after they are viewed by the recipient.

As to whether the victim was in fact underage during at least part of the sexual relationship, Caribou County Prosecutor Steven Wood attempted to provide evidence during his redirect questioning.

Having already asked for general dates of some of the instances included in the charges, Wood confirmed that the victim was under 18 years of age until the month of her graduation. He then asked if she ever had any reason to visit Schvaneveldt after her graduation, to which she said she did not.

Before announcing his decision to bind Schvaneveldt over to district court, Cousin said there were some questions about exact dates. However, he said, with the sheer number of sexual interactions between the two, evidence was presented during the victim’s testimony to justify 20 charges of rape.

With the decision, Schvaneveldt will now be arraigned in district court. That hearing is set for Monday.