FRANKLIN, Ind. – A former track coach for Franklin Community Schools faces charges for having an alleged affair with one of his athletes.
James Eli Betts, 42, was an assistant track coach for the Franklin Community High School Girls and Boys teams from 2013 to 2015. He was then rehired by the district as a part-time track assistant coach in February 2021, before the allegations came to light.
According to court documents, Betts faces four counts of child seduction. The charges stem from allegations from a former athlete who said she and Betts exchanged explicit photos and engaged in sexual contact while he was her coach. The teen has since graduated.
According to court documents, Betts and the teen started texting each other in the spring or summer of 2014 after the state track finals.
Their communications “turned sexual in nature very quickly,” according to court documents, and they exchanged nude photos. Betts sent her “between 50 and 100” pictures of his genitals on Snapchat, the teen told investigators.
The girl was 16 years old at the time. She alleged that Betts kept a “countdown” of when she would turn 18.
During the summer of 2014, things became physical. The teen, who had been a babysitter for Betts and his wife, said Betts drove her home one night and had her perform a sex act, according to court documents.
A few weeks or months after that, the teen said Betts let her know that his wife was out of town. She came over to his house and had sex. The teen told investigators that she had been “trying to convince herself that the sex had been consensual.”
They continued exchanging messages, but the girl said the exchanges weren’t as frequent or sexual in nature. Betts continued to keep in touch with her when she was a freshman at college. Betts resigned as track coach in January 2015, which would have been prior to the girl’s junior season.
The girl told police that she only understood the gravity of what had happened when she was in college. Before that, she didn’t want to report Betts’ conduct because he was no longer a coach, and she didn’t want anyone to know what had happened between them.
In March, when a former college advisor told the girl that Betts was once again a coach for the district, she decided to step forward because she “did not want anyone to ever have to go through what she went through,” according to court documents. She reported Betts to the school after that.
She told investigators that she considered what happened to her to be “sexual assault.”
Police interviewed Betts on April 5. He said he’d coached for about 20 years but took a break from the track team to coach his son’s baseball team. He told investigators that he “connected well” with kids but hadn’t had an inappropriate relationship with one of his athletes.
He acknowledged that he knew the girl in question, said they were Facebook friends and told police that she’d babysat for him and his wife. He denied sending any inappropriate pictures to the girl, although he said he had sent “penis pictures” to other women before.
Betts told investigators he’d driven her home from babysitting before and that she’d once stopped by his house when his wife was out of town. As he told it, the girl stopped by after a party, and they sat on the porch because he thought she’d been “drinking alcohol and smoking weed.”
He initially said they didn’t go inside the house but later apologized for putting up a defense. He said they had kissed and flirted, and things went too far on the couch, although he maintained they didn’t have intercourse. He said he was “not thinking straight.”
Betts also told investigators that he had “tons of affairs” outside his marriage but that all of them had been with “people his own age.”
The school district released the following statement:
On March 25th, Franklin Community Schools was contacted by a former student alleging misconduct against Mr. James Eli Betts. The matter was immediately referred to the Division of Child Protective Services as directed by state law. Mr. Betts had no further contact with student-athletes after March 25th.
On April 5, Franklin Community Schools and the Franklin Police Department met to discuss a police investigation involving FCHS part-time assistant track coach Mr. James Eli Betts and a former student. Mr. Betts’ coaching responsibilities were terminated on April 5th.
Mr. Betts previously served as an assistant coach for the Franklin Community High School Girls and Boys track teams from 2013-2015. The allegation of misconduct happened during the previous coaching experience at FCHS. Mr. Betts had returned to the FCHS track coaching staff in February 2021. Franklin Community Schools followed the normal hiring process and protocols, including the Indiana State Statutory required expanded criminal history background check and child protection index search. This search did not reveal any conduct that would disqualify him from being a coach for FCHS.
Franklin Schools will continue to work closely with the Franklin Police Department on this matter. All students’ safety is a priority, and the district has procedures and policies in place to ensure a safe, secure learning environment is available to all. If anyone has additional information, they should contact the Franklin Police Department.