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Prosecution questions former Garden Plain coach about encounters with massage therapists

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Thursday, April 4, 2013, at 11:02 a.m.
  • Updated Friday, August 30, 2013, at 7:31 a.m.

Former Garden Plain football coach Todd Puetz told a Sedgwick County jury Thursday that he regularly received massages to ease tension, but he said he only twice accepted an offer for a “happy ending” that added a sexual element to the service.

Puetz said a third encounter, on Oct. 22, 2011, resulted in him having intercourse with the massage therapist. It was less than an hour after leaving that third encounter at a west Wichita motel, he said, that he stopped at a house where undercover police officers were posing as underage prostitutes.

Puetz’s testimony came during the fourth day of his trial on charges of electronic solicitation of a child, attempted aggravated indecent liberties with a child and attempted criminal sodomy.

Wichita police said Puetz was arrested after responding to an ad placed in the escort section of the backpage.com website. He is accused of arranging to have sex with a detective posing as a 15-year-old girl.

Defense lawyer Dan Monnat has suggested that Puetz had no reason to solicit sex from a 15-year-old girl if he had just finished having sex with a massage therapist.

Among the items admitted as evidence in the trial is a receipt that shows that Puetz paid $25 when he checked into the Western Holiday Motel at 8925 W. Kellogg under his own name on the day of his arrest. The receipt makes no mention of the time he checked in or out.

Puetz testified earlier that he went to a house in the 15100 block of West Kellogg where police were conducting a sting operation because he was concerned about the welfare of a girl he talked to on the phone after answering a backpage.com ad. The girl said she was a runaway and needed money, Puetz said.

Puetz told the jury he was skeptical about the girl’s claim to be 15 years old. But he said if she was telling the truth, he said, he planned to give her some money and go home.

During his cross-examination, Assistant District Attorney Justin Edwards pressed Puetz on his use of massages to alleviate anxiety attacks.

“How many times a week would you get a massage?” Edwards asked at one point.

“I don’t know,” Puetz replied.

“More than once a week?”

“I don’t know.”

“More than twice a week?”

“I don’t know.”

“Any idea?”

“I don’t have a number,” Puetz replied.

Puetz also was unable to provide an answer when Edwards asked how many massages Puetz received from an individual identified only as “Ken.”

“Have you suffered any kind of traumatic kind of brain injury that prevents you from remembering?” Edwards asked.

“I don’t remember how many massages I received from that individual,” Puetz replied.

Edwards also asked Puetz about his mistaken belief that a police officer posing as a prostitute would have to tell the truth if a potential customer asked her if she was an officer.

“Who told you that?” Edwards asked.

“Pretty much the first massage place told me that when they first saw me,” Puetz said. “I’d never been arrested. I didn’t do this stuff. I didn’t know. That’s what I believed.”

Since losing his job as a teacher, coach and athletic director in Garden Plain, Puetz said, he’s been working on a ranch doing manual work ranging from welding to painting. He said he still has a teaching certificate, but doesn’t plan on returning to academics.

“I know I was a good teacher,” he said. “I know I was a good coach. I know with all this circus media and everything, I’m not going back to that.”

Reach Hurst Laviana at 316-268-6499 or hlaviana@wichitaeagle.com.

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