Former playground coach pleads guilty to molesting boys, gets 35-year sentence

A former Jefferson Parish playground coach was sentenced to 35 years in prison after he pleaded guilty Thursday morning (March 16) to molesting four boys as young as 9 years old in his Metairie apartments and to taking pornographic photographs of one child.

James L. Prince Jr., 45, known as “Coach Jim” to the youths he mentored at Girard Playground in Metairie, pleaded guilty to forcible rape, four counts of sexual battery of juveniles, four counts of indecent behavior with juveniles and nine counts of production of pornography involving juveniles under age 13.

He also would register as a sex offender for life, should he ever be released from prison. He is not be expected to be released from prison before he is 81 years old.

The plea, to which the victims and their families agreed, spares them the need to testify about the details of the abuse Prince meted out. However, two victims and a mother provided impact testimony on Thursday, telling the judge and Prince about the effects his abuse has had on them.

The crimes were reported on Oct. 15, 2015, by the mother of two of the victims after her sons disclosed the abuse beginning in 2002. Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office detectives learned that Prince met the victims through Girard Playground, where he volunteered as a youth sports coach.

In accepting the plea, Judge Conn Regan of the 24th Judicial District Court sentenced Prince to 35 years for forcible rape, 35 years for each of the child pornography counts, 10 years for each of the sexual battery counts and seven years for each of the indecent behavior.

The sentences were run concurrently. Prince must serve the sentences at hard labor and without benefit of probation, parole or suspension of sentence.

Assistant District Attorneys Lynn Schiffman and Thomas Sanderson prosecuted the case.

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