A judge is denying bond for a former Orange County High School softball coach accused of dozens of sex-related crimes involving children.
Fifty-seven-year-old Cathy Smith Rothgeb appeared in Orange County Circuit Court Thursday, October 19. She is currently charged with seven counts of object sexual penetration, seven counts of forcible sodomy, eight counts of indecent liberties with children, eight counts of cruelty to children and four counts of aggravated sexual battery.
Attorneys revealed in court Thursday that the charges involve two victims, and that the alleged incidents occurred in the 1990's.
Virginia State Police (VSP) said it launched an investigation in the summer of 2016 after a female contacted an investigator.
Authorities said Rothgeb had coached youth recreational leagues and travel teams in the area of Orange and Spotsylvania counties from the 1980s through the early 2000s. She has no recent affiliation with Orange County High School.
The two victims claim to have been on Rothgeb’s team.
VSP announced on Monday, October 16, that Rothgeb had turned herself in to authorities the previous Friday. A grand jury has since handed down a total of 34 indictments against the Stanley woman.
The courtroom was filled with dozens of supporters for Rothgeb during Thursday’s hearing. Many said the former coach is well known for her work in the county and the charges are a shock.
“She [Rothgeb] was just blown away that these charges ever happened. She doesn't know where they came from,” said Lee Barlow, a friend of the defendant.
"It's just unbelievable how something like this can come down and go on for this long without something coming up,” said George Shifflett.
Supporters describe Rothgeb as a mother, a grandmother, and a friend.
"She would never do something like this. It just kills me that these things are being said about her," Barlow said.
Friends of the defendant say Rothgeb was instrumental in getting the softball team started in Orange County: "Cathy was one of our coaches. Started back in the mid 80's, she coached the softball team with my sister," Shifflett said.
"This lady has put a lot of her time in the community of Orange County," said Gina Haney.
Friends say they trust Rothgeb and know the truth will come out in court.
"Everyone is going to say mean and cruel things, and they're instantly going to judge one's character based on things that are presented through the courts. I say give an opportunity to someone to prove themselves that they are innocent," Hansey said.
Orange County Commonwealths Attorney Diana O'Connell says this is a "historic case" and it is possible that more charges may come forward.
Anyone with information about Rothgeb is encouraged to contact Virginia State Police at 1-888-300-0156 or 540-829-7400 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Rothgeb's next hearing is scheduled for November 9.
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