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Former teacher, coach gets plea deal in sexual misconduct case

WILLISTON, N.D.--A former Williston High School teacher and girls basketball coach accused of sexual misconduct earlier this year has accepted a plea agreement that includes a 30-day suspended jail sentence and two years of probation.

Walter Eldridge
Walter Eldridge

WILLISTON, N.D.-A former Williston High School teacher and girls basketball coach accused of sexual misconduct earlier this year has accepted a plea agreement that includes a 30-day suspended jail sentence and two years of probation.

Walter Eldridge entered an Alford Plea late last month to a charge of disorderly conduct, which was amended from an original allegation of sexual assault.

Eldridge, who was an English teacher and varsity coach for about five years, is not allowed to take another teaching or coaching job until his two years of probation are completed.

Eldridge was accused of inappropriately touching an 18-year-old girl in December after both Williston police and the school district opened investigations into his behavior. He was placed on paid suspension just prior to his April arrest, school officials said.

A court document that outlines the terms of the plea deal explains that Eldridge, 33, believes "that if this case went to trial a jury could find that in or around December 2015, (Eldridge) said words and did actions that interfered with the privacy of a student... in the city of Williston."

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The original charges against Eldridge didn't make it clear if the girl who accused him was a student or not.

In an Alford plea, a defendant does not admit guilt, but acknowledges the prosecution has enough evidence to lead to a conviction at trial.

Conditions of the deal included resignation from Williston Public School District No. 1, which he did in early August, and the surrender of his teaching license to the North Dakota Education Standards and Practices Board.

Attempts to reach Eldridge by phone for comment were unsuccessful.

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