Former tennis coach convicted of enticing teen for sex

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COVINGTON, Ky. (WTVQ) – A Kenton County Circuit Court jury needed just 20 minutes Thursday to convict a 62-year-old former Ohio youth tennis coach of luring a minor for sex.

The verdict against Timothy Mitchell came at the end of a three-day trial, which was the first since the state allowed trials after a coronavirus-related shutdown.

At the end of the sentencing phase, the jury recommended Mitchell serve 2.5 years in prison from a range of 1 to 5 years for the class D felony for unlawful use of an electronic device to procure a minor for sex.

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Mitchell also must register as a sex offender. He’ll be formally sentenced in September.

The investigation began while Kenton County Police Detective Brian Jones was in a training class to teach police on how to spot online child predators. Jones followed the classroom instructions and created an online persona pretending to be a 14-year-old girl.

Mitchell responded to the “child” with an array of sexual comments, questions, and even emailed a photo of his genitals on the very first day of online contact.

Mitchell sent numerous emails requesting to meet the child for sex despite being repeatedly reminded of the girl’s young age. Mitchell also suggested the girl tell her guardian she was taking tennis lessons from him so the two could spend time alone together.

Mitchell’s emails also described various sex acts he desired to engage in with the child and told her he wanted to be her “Daddy Lover.”

On March 12, 2019, after communicating with the child for only a week, Mitchell traveled from his Mt. Airy, Ohio home to a location in Kenton County where he planned to have sex with the child but was instead met by Kenton County Police Officer Adam Watson and Capt. Gary Helton who arrested him.

Officers discovered Mitchell was dressed as he had described for the child, with no undergarments beneath his track suit. Mitchell also had a new cellular phone he planned to give to the child so her guardian could not track her calls.

Detective Jones brought Mitchell in for questioning but did not disclose he was really the “child” communicating with Mitchell. After Jones described how angry the child’s guardian was upon learning of grown man soliciting the child for sex, Mitchell proceeded to write her an apology letter, reassuring her he had no intentions of kidnapping the girl.

Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorneys Emily Arnzen and Corey Plybon declined to make any plea offers to the defendant. The case was called for before Kenton Circuit Judge Patricia Summe on August 4, 2020 in an unusual courtroom filled with plexi-glass dividers and masked jurors scattered about for social distancing.

Everyone but the jurors was cleared from the courtroom so the jury could deliberate while still remaining at least six feet apart. After only 20 minutes, the jury found Mitchell guilty as charged.

After the trial, Arnzen said “In the criminal justice system, sexual crimes are considered especially heinous, but sexual crimes against children are the worst of the worst!”

Arnzen said some people erroneously discount the vicious nature of online predators when they discover the ‘child’ was actually a police officer.

“If it wasn’t Detective Jones, it would have be a real child and she would receive a life sentence suffering from the trauma of being raped by this man,” said Arnzen. “Thank God for great cops like Detective Jones, and thank God our Kenton County Police fund a position dedicated to hunting online predators.”