Originally created 10/04/04

Parents support coach convicted of sex offense



COLUMBIA, S.C. - Parents are supporting a youth football coach who was banned from the league this season after officials discovered his name on a list of sex offenders.

Joe Meggett says his conviction in 1995 came when he was 19 and had sex with his 14-year-old girlfriend. The police report of that incident says Meggett was 20 and the girl was 13. Meggett is now 30.

He coached for four years before the conviction was discovered, and he and parents now say he should be allowed to stay.

That won't happen, said Dan Wells, executive director of the Irmo Chapin Recreation Commission since 2001.

Meggett's name was on the list of sexual offenders maintained by the State Law Enforcement Division and available free on the Internet. Officials at Seven Oaks Park, where he coached, never checked his name until this fall.

Meggett knows he wouldn't have been allowed to coach if the recreation agency had known of his sexual conviction. But he said he has proven himself after four years.

"You look into the Joe Meggett file and see those things from my past," he said. "I'm no longer that person."

After the conviction was discovered by the commission, Meggett told many of the parents and they forgave him.

"I have five kids," said William McCleery, an assistant coach whose son plays on the team. "To be honest, if I were to hear this and not know the man, I'd be skeptical.

"But I know Joe. Sometimes you do things when you're young and then you grow up. He has."