Former PSU cheerleading coach Neil Finger was sentenced to nine months in prison for having sex with a 17-year-old girl, who was a student at his Vancouver-based cheerleading school. Finger’s voice was shaky as he read a statement laden with apology and regret in court Tuesday morning. “Remorse is in my heart. I apologize to my victim and to everyone I’ve offended.”
Former PSU cheerleading coach Neil Finger was sentenced to nine months in prison for having sex with a 17-year-old girl, who was a student at his Vancouver-based cheerleading school.
Finger’s voice was shaky as he read a statement laden with apology and regret in court Tuesday morning.”Remorse is in my heart. I apologize to my victim and to everyone I’ve offended.”
While the statement was read, a few members of the courtroom audience cried.
Finger, 28, was arrested on a charge of sexual misconduct on Sept. 25, after his victim’s parents found her diary with entries in it about him. At the time, he was working as a Portland State cheerleading coach and was the owner of the Vancouver Cheer Academy.
In addition to the prison sentence, Finger is required to register as a sex offender for 10 years and will have to pay nearly $1,500 in restitution. Finger’s cheerleading academy is now closed.
Finger was initially charged with two counts of sexual misconduct with a minor and one count of tampering with evidence. After pleading guilty, the charges were reduced to a single count of sexual misconduct.
Since this was Finger’s first offense, the maximum jail sentence was one year.
Portland State hired Finger in September 2007 as a temporary hire due to the seasonal nature of cheerleading, said Portland State’s associate vice president of human resources, Cathy LaTourette. There were no background checks run on him.
While background checks are not run on temporary hires, PSU has been developing a stringent background check policy since 2003, LaTourette said.
There has been increased attention to background checks lately at the administrative level, but LaTourette said it is unrelated to Finger’s case.
“We were on that track already,” LaTourette said.
Darlene Brady, who has been involved with PSU cheerleading in the past, has been filling the cheer coach position, athletic director Torre Chisholm said. Finger will not be rehired as cheer coach, he said.
Finger’s defense attorney, Antoine Tissot, requested that Finger be eligible for work release, which would reduce his served time, though the judge said he could not determine work release eligibility at the sentencing.
Just before Finger delivered his statement, a community member read the victim’s statement to the court.”I can’t even begin to explain the situation,” the statement read. “I’m now in a world where I trust no one.”