MOUNT VERNON – After being found guilty of gross sexual imposition, Paul Swanson was sentenced to no jail time on Aug. 5.
Instead of time behind bars, the former Mount Vernon Nazarene University volleyball coach will attend a rehabilitation program at the Alvis House in Chillicothe, where his length of stay will be determined by how well he does in the program.
The community, now outraged, is calling for change.
“I can tell you that this sentencing is definitely lesser than what is normally given out by this court,” Knox County Prosecutor Chip McConville told the Mount Vernon News. “The two factors that play heavily into the sentencing are that Swanson is 67 years old and has no prior criminal record. The court believes that this lowers his chance of re-offending significantly.”
McConville argued during the trial that incarceration would be an appropriate sentence for Swanson due to the “seriousness of the factors involved.” He cited Swanson’s lack of remorse for his actions as a reason why he poses a recidivism risk.
“I think he deserved a lot more time than he got,” Mount Vernon resident Anna Long said. “His activity in the community is irrelevant. He is still a sex offender.”
Almost one year ago, Swanson was arrested for allegedly sexually victimizing an 88-year-old woman in a local nursing home.
Facing a sentence of six to 18 months in prison, five years’ probation and a $5,000 fine, Swanson maintained his innocence. He and his attorney, Brain Bowen, had plans to appeal the conviction before sentencing. They are reconsidering, however, after hearing that Swanson will serve no jail time, a report from KnoxPages said.
“I think it’s awful he pretty much just gets to walk free with no punishment for his actions,” Bladensburg resident Devin Copass said.
In response to the verdict, a Mount Vernon-based shelter that provides resources for domestic violence and sexual assault victims is reexamining the services it offers to the community.
“The Paul Swanson case caused us to re-evaluate our programmatic offering and gaps in our services,” New Directions Executive Director Lori Jones-Perkins said. “We recognize the need to reach out to our local facilities serving the elderly, inclusive of their employees, to share our services. We encourage anyone impacted by this case to reach out to our agency to advocacy services.”