Ex-Garden Plain coach seeks to dismiss child-sex charges

06/08/2012 5:00 AM

08/08/2014 10:10 AM

The defense attorney for a former Garden Plain football coach charged with child sex crimes is arguing that an undercover detective entrapped the coach and that he didn’t solicit anyone.

Defense attorney Dan Monnat is making the argument in a motion filed Thursday to dismiss the charges against Todd Puetz, who had been a winning high school coach and athletic director before being charged last November with electronic solicitation, attempted aggravated indecent liberties with a child and attempted criminal sodomy.

The defense motion came less than a month after a District Court judge found that prosecutors presented enough evidence for Puetz, 40, to go trial Aug. 6.

The District Attorney’s Office today declined to comment on the move to dismiss the charges.

In Thursday’s filing, Monnat seized on these words from Puetz: “I knew you weren’t 15.” Monnat said that according to testimony, Puetz said those words with a smile when he stepped into a house that was part of an undercover sting operation and saw a 40-some-year-old undercover detective, Jennifer Wright. The sting involved an adult escort ad and the undercover detective saying by phone that she was a 15-year-old selling all kinds of sex.

“Mr. Puetz allegedly called the phone number in the ad, and laughed in surprise and disbelief when the woman who answered in her normal adult voice told him that she was only 15,” Monnat said in the motion to dismiss.

“Once she made this claim, it took eight telephone calls (some of which were initiated by Detective Wright when it appeared that Mr. Puetz was ‘not interested in pursuing something’.” And he said, “I will pass.” It was two hours before Puetz arrived at the sting house on West Kellogg, and he never voiced a desire for underage sex, Monnat argued in the motion.

The motion also said that when Puetz arrived at the house, “he appeared wholly unprepared to have sex of any kind that Detective Wright suggested” — he had only $45 on him and no condom, the motion said. He had other money in his car.

Officers immediately arrested Puetz, and he told a detective he didn’t want to have sex with underage girls, “and he explained that if ‘Marissa’ had in fact been underage, he intended to help her by giving her money, and ‘that’s all he was going to do’ before leaving and going home,” the motion said.

After listening to both sides at Puetz’s preliminary hearing last month, District Judge Ben Burgess said the testimony brought by the prosecution showed probable cause to believe that Puetz was responding to an advertisement that offered sex. Burgess also said that after the undercover detective told Puetz by phone three or four times that she was 15, it’s reasonable for prosecutors to argue that when he showed up at the site of the undercover sting, he expected to have sex with a 15-year-old girl.

Monnat has entered not-guilty pleas on Puetz’s behalf.

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