LAPORTE | A 21-year prison sentence was given Thursday to a man convicted of having a sexual relationship with a female player he coached at LaPorte High School.
Family members of the victim telling stories of heartbreak and suffering asked for the maximum 51 year sentence for Robert Ashcraft, 46.
"I feel prison is not enough for Bob Ashcraft. He will not feel the pain inflicted upon my family no matter how long he is sentenced," said the father of the girl, who was 14 when she first met Ashcraft.
The now 19-year-old woman tearfully told the court she believed Ashcraft's promises they would spent the rest of their lives together, but later realized he manipulated her and hurt her even more by telling a jury she lied about their relationship.
"I trusted a man who promised me everything. I was betrayed and used by a man that I loved," the woman said.
Ashcraft was convicted last month by a LaPorte Circuit Court jury of two counts of Class B felony sexual misconduct with a minor; Class C felony sexual misconduct with a minor and Class D felony child seduction.
LaPorte County Deputy Prosecutor Chris Fronk recommended a 30-year prison sentence while defense attorney Steve Snyder suggested a less than 10-year sentence on work release.
Ashcraft again professed his innocence and told the court he will appeal.
Testimony at trial revealed the girl and Ashcraft met in 2007 when she was playing at the Dunes Operation Center, a volleyball club he owns near Rolling Prairie.
The victim testified physical contact between she and Ashcraft began in his truck parked outside the volleyball club in 2008.
She said they would later arrange to meet near her house and he would drive her to secluded locations to have sex.
Prior to sentencing, the victim said she was blinded by Ashcraft and withdrew from friends and school functions to further their relationship.
She said she also lied to her parents to cover up and continue their union.
"My life completely revolved around Bob. He was my everything. My best friend," she said.
Her father told the court Ashcraft "had a hold" on his daughter who toward the end of their relationship promised she would stay away from the man only to keep seeing him behind his back.
"This man took my daughter and turned her into somebody I didn't know any more," he said.
Fronk said an elevated sentence was deserved because Ashcraft used his position of trust over the girl to prey then control her.
He also cited the testimony of a clinical psychologist who feels the victim could suffer lifelong consequences including difficulty maintaining lasting relationships and low self-esteem.
Afterward, defense attorney Steve Snyder said several pieces of evidence that could have proven Ashcraft's innocence were not allowed to be submitted at trial and will come up for a challenge on appeal.
"There were evidentiary rulings that we very clearly take strong exception to and I think on appeal you're going to see some matters reversed. That's what I believe," Snyder said.
LaPorte County Prosecutor Bob Szilagyi said no decision has been made on whether to charge any school administrators who might have known about the relationship.
Szilagyi said he and his staff are still evaluating all of the evidence and that decision should be made by the end of the month.