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Correction: A previous version of this story said Robert Alexander pleaded guilty to two counts of sexual battery. He actually pleaded no contest.

A Fort Oglethorpe softball coach accused of sexually violating a child will not go to prison.

Robert Alexander, 44, pleaded no contest to reduced charges Friday and received a punishment of 10 years on probation. His attorney said he also received first offender treatment, a rule that means the conviction will not be on his record and can't be used against him if he applies for a job, assuming he obeys the terms of his probation.

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Robert Alexander

In October 2014, the Catoosa County Sheriff's Office charged Alexander with aggravated child molestation, aggravated sexual battery and two other counts of child molestation. In an arrest warrant affidavit at the time, Detective Tim Deal said Alexander inappropriately touched the girl.

Investigators said the molestation happened at some point from December 2012 to October 2014, when the girl would have been between 12 and 14 years old.

The harshest charge he faced, aggravated child molestation, would have put him in prison for at least 25 years, if a jury convicted him. As part of the plea agreement, Lookout Mountain Judicial Circuit Assistant District Attorney Chris Arnt agreed not to prosecute Alexander on that count. He also agreed to reduce the child molestation charges to sexual battery.

On Monday, Arnt said he accepted Alexander's plea agreement for two reasons.

First, the victim never wanted Alexander to go to prison. Arnt said the girl wanted Alexander to receive counseling. She also wanted him to admit that he inappropriately touched her.

"The Defendant and his family were very outspoken, calling the victim a liar," Arnt wrote in an email, "and she felt that his admission vindicated her. She basically broke down in tears when the words came out of the Defendant's mouth."

Another factor complicating the case was the loss of the girl's mother, who died in a car crash Oct. 30.

The mother, a special education teacher at Northwest Whitfield High School, was a key witness for the prosecution. At the same time, the defendant's lawyer, Chris Townley, believed her testimony would have actually helped his client.

The mother allowed four of her children, not including the victim, to stay with Alexander "for very large periods of time" even after his arrest.

"She was in a position to explain that," Townley said Monday.

Alexander, who did not answer the door at a listed address, coached youth softball. At the time of his arrest, some parents told WRCB-TV they were concerned that a condition of his bond allowed him to continue to work with children.

During a court hearing last month, before he pleaded guilty, Alexander denied molesting the child. But when asked about another child, according to an order, he invoked his Fifth Amendment privilege against self- incrimination. The prosecution had listed that second child as a potential witness in the criminal case.

"The evidence was all going to be testimonial in nature, creating in essence a credibility battle," Arnt wrote, "and juries seem less inclined to convict in these type [of cases] based on only testimonial evidence. Whether this is due to the immense negative publicity from another case or simply a societal attitude shift is unknown, but it is something we have to consider."

Concerning the "immense negative publicity," Arnt did not respond to a question asking if he was referring to Tonya Craft, a former Chickamauga kindergarten teacher charged with aggravated child molestation in 2008. Craft's trial received national media attention, most of it in her favor, and a jury found her not guilty in 2010.

Arnt was one of the prosecutors on the case.

Contact Staff Writer Tyler Jett at 423-757-6476 or tjett@timesfreepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @LetsJett.

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