Former Ringling coach accused of verbally abusing players retracts court plea.

A former high school football coach in Oklahoma, accused of verbally abusing his teenage players, is seeking to have a jury assess the allegations against him after a judge dismissed the original plea agreement he had negotiated with prosecutors.

Phil Koons, formerly of Ringling, initially entered a no contest plea to a misdemeanor charge of outraging public decency. However, on Tuesday, a judge in Jefferson County ruled that Koons could withdraw his plea and proceed to trial.

Koons’ legal team argued that the renowned coach was pressured into hastily accepting the plea deal during a January court appearance and did not fully comprehend its implications. By pleading no contest, defendants do not admit guilt but forfeit their right to a trial and agree to accept the court’s punishment.

Initially, Koons intended to enter the plea under the condition of receiving probation. However, Judge Dennis Gay refused to accept these terms, leaving Koons potentially facing a sentence of up to a year in jail.

Prosecutor John Weedn urged the judge to reject Koons’ request to retract his plea and proceed with the sentencing as planned.

Legal proceedings were put on hold for over a month following a medical incident involving Koons while he was testifying in court. They resumed on Tuesday, with the judge siding with Koons.

Koons is now exercising his right to a jury trial, as indicated by court documents filed by one of his attorneys, Michael Johnson. This development suggests that the case could continue through the court system for an extended period.

The allegations against Koons stem from a state police investigation initiated last year following complaints from teenage boys in Ringling. Court records allege that Koons used profane and derogatory language towards the student-athletes under his supervision, with some players accusing him of bullying and intimidation.

Several players have filed lawsuits against Koons and Ringling schools, alleging mistreatment and the failure of the schools to take appropriate action.

While Koons no longer holds coaching or teaching positions, he remains certified to teach various subjects and serve as a secondary school principal, a role he also held at Ringling in addition to being the head football coach.

The state schools Superintendent, Ryan Walters, has stated that he is monitoring the criminal investigation but has not indicated whether he will take any further action in response to the players’ complaints. State regulators have not sought to revoke Koons’ teaching certificates through the Oklahoma State Board of Education.

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