Ex-Wasatch High football coach pleads no contest to assaulting student


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HEBER CITY — The former head football coach at Wasatch High School pleaded no contest Friday to assaulting one of his students.

Steve North, 51, was originally charged with child abuse, a class A misdemeanor. He was allowed to enter a plea in abeyance Friday and pleaded no contest to a reduced charge of assault, a class B misdemeanor.

As part of the plea deal, if North stays out of trouble and commits no other crimes for nine months, the case will be dismissed.

North was placed on leave following the incident. His contract was not renewed and he is currently unemployed. The Professional Practices Advisory Commission will review North's case and will make recommendations concerning his teaching license.

North is accused of hitting a student over the head with a hockey stick, pushing him against a wall and kneeing him in the groin. Witnesses said North was fed up with a student who was known for back-talking and was disrupting his class.

The 17-year-old student earlier testified that he was late to North's PE class at the Heber City school. He said he was talking to a friend in class when North confronted him, ultimately hitting him on the head with a hockey stick.

"I said, 'That's messed up, hitting me on the head with a hockey stick.' He said, 'I'll show you what's messed up.'" The teen later admitted he used what North's defense attorney described as a "few choice words" with the teacher.

The student said the coach then shoved him against a wall and kneed him in the "upper thigh and private area."

North's attorney downplayed the incident, noting there was no evidence of the boy's injuries. The student did not inform a teacher or see a doctor or have police take pictures of his injuries. It was only after some of his friends told other teachers what had happened that the incident was brought to the school administration's attention.

North had been a teacher at the school for nearly two decades. Since the incident, many parents and students have defended him and his actions.

Fourth District Judge Christine Johnson also ordered North to complete an anger management class and pay a $200 fee. He was also ordered to pay restitution, but that amount has yet to be determined.

North gave a brief statement in court Friday before he was sentenced.

"I would like to say I'm sorry for what transpired. Things being said out there are not the truth. I'm sorry for both families. It escalated into something it never was," he said.

The victim did not attend Friday's sentencing because his mother said he "lives in fear" of North and doesn't trust adults, especially teachers. She read a statement written by her son:

"I feel hurt, angry and upset. I lost a lot of my friends. I dropped out of high school I don't feel like doing anything anymore. Everyone hates me and everyone keeps asking me questions. This incident follows me wherever I go. I have had to leave town and I have to go to counseling because of this," the boy wrote.

"I realize that everyone makes mistakes and I'm really sorry that Coach made the choice he did. I don't hate Coach. I looked up to him and I thought he was my friend."

The mother also read her own statement, telling the judge that her son chose to leave Wasatch High "because of the mistrust of teachers and the negative response of the community."

"He has also had to move out of this town because of the way he has been treated and because of the fear of what others would do to him and our family. My son and our family living in hiding," she said.

The mother also chided North for not taking responsibility for the incident. "Instead of the coach teaching his students integrity, he, through his actions and words, has taught his students how to use the legal system to get out of their bad choices and not accept responsibility for those bad choices."

Email: [spenrod@ksl.com](<mailto: spenrod@ksl.com>)

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