Bart McInerney, 46, the former star coach at state champion St. Rose High School in Belmar, N.J., was convicted in 2010 on 10 counts of second-degree child endangerment and sentenced to 18 years in prison. Prosecutors said McInerney forced players on the team to tell him about their masturbating and demanded they give him videos of the sex acts and spent condoms, The [Newark] Star-Ledger reported.
Andrew Clark, 18, one of McInerney's former players, killed himself in 2008 after his family said he'd had sexually charged interactions with the coach.
A three-judge appellate panel ruled the trial judge did not properly charge the jury prior to deliberations and did not explain the difference between second-degree child endangerment and third-degree child endangerment. New Jersey law states the second-degree charge applies to caretakers, typically parents or guardians. The third-degree charge should have been more appropriate for an authority figure such as a sports coach, McInerney lawyer Edward C. Bertucio argued.
The third-degree charge carries a maximum five-year prison term versus 10 years for second-degree endangerment. Lawyers said a conviction of third-degree child endangerment can include prison time, but the presumption by a judge is that it will not include prison at sentencing.
Clark family attorney Raymond Gill, who is representing the family in a civil suit against McInerney, St. Rose and the Diocese of Trenton said his clients were devastated McInerney might be back on the streets.
"The Clark family is devastated at the fact that this monster may be released from jail," Gill said.