Ex-SW coach to enter plea in sexual-conduct case

A pretrial conference will be held Monday, May 12, in Hennepin County District Court for former Southwest High School wrestling coach Eric John Bettermann, 31, arrested in late March and charged with having a yearlong sexual relationship with a 16-year-old female student.

Assistant Hennepin County Attorney Fred Karasov said Bettermann's plea at the hearing will determine if he'll go to trial.

Bettermann admitted to the relationship, but has not been convicted of a crime. He is no longer working at Southwest, according to Margaret Westin, a Minneapolis Public Schools attorney. Westin said that Bettermann was employed by the school system on a contract basis, and the contract ended with the wrestling season and would not be renewed.

Bettermann was charged in Hennepin County District Court with third-degree criminal sexual conduct, a felony carrying up to 15 years in prison and up to a $30,000 fine. He was released on $50,000 bail under the provisions that he have no contact with the victim, no contact with minors, no Internet access and must report to law officials twice weekly.

A Hennepin County Attorney official said that although 16 is the age of sexual consent in Minnesota, Bettermann can still be charged because as a coach, he had a level of authority over the victim.

Westin said the district always performs criminal background checks on employees with directt access to students. She said nothing came up on Bettermann.