Knox County Courthouse

The Knox County Courthouse, 117 E. High St. in Mount Vernon.

MOUNT VERNON – Longtime Mount Vernon Nazarene University volleyball coach Paul Swanson pleaded not guilty Thursday to a felony charge that he sexually victimized an 88-year-old nursing home resident in late September.

Swanson appeared in Knox County Common Pleas Court with his attorney, Jonathon Spaulding, as well as several friends and family members.

It was Swanson’s first court appearance since the case was transferred from Mount Vernon Municipal Court earlier this month.

Even though Swanson pleaded not guilty in municipal court, he was arraigned again Thursday after a Knox County grand jury indicted him on Oct. 7 on one count of gross sexual imposition.

Swanson’s original arraignment date was Oct. 17. It was moved back one week upon a request from Spaulding.

Paul Swanson

Longtime MVNU volleyball coach Paul Swanson exits the Knox County Courthouse on Thursday.

The fourth-degree felony charge against Swanson, 67, of 208 E. Vine St, stems from an alleged incident on Sept. 21 at a local nursing home.

According to court and police records, nursing home staff allegedly saw Swanson exposing himself and forcing a female victim to make sexual contact with him inside the home. Swanson allegedly knew the victim’s ability to resist or consent was “impaired by a physical or mental condition.”

Swanson was arrested on Sept. 24 and taken to the Knox County Jail. He was released on his own recognizance three days later, under the condition that he stay off the premises of the Ohio Eastern Star Home and cease contact with the alleged victim.

Knox County Common Pleas Court Judge Richard Wetzel said Thursday he would not impose any additional conditions to Swanson’s current court orders.

Spaulding has yet to issue a statement on behalf of his client regarding the charge.

Knox County Prosecutor Chip McConville indicated earlier this month that following arraignment, the prosecutor’s office will receive a discovery request from the defense counsel and a trial date will be set.

“We’ll see if there’s any discussions about a plea or whether or not we’re going to have a trial,” McConville said. “Right now, I would expect – based on how things are being set – that a trial date’s not gonna happen until probably January.”

“They set the trials far enough out so that both parties will have exchanged discovery and had a chance to engage in some meaningful discussions on settlement before the trial date happens,” McConville added.

If found guilty, Swanson faces a potential sentence of six to 18 months in prison and a fine of up to $5,000. The longtime MVNU volleyball coach and physical education professor has been placed on administrative leave by the university.

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Staff Reporter

Grant is a 2018 graduate of Ohio Northern University, where he studied journalism and played basketball. He likes coffee, books and minor league baseball. He loves telling stories and has a passion for local news.