April 26, 2011 11:48:00 AM
JACKSON -- A high school football coach whose long career took him from ball fields and classrooms in Mississippi to similar jobs in Alabama is set to plead guilty Wednesday in a sweeping child molestation case involving teenage boys, federal court records said.
Dwight Bowling, 56, faces more than a dozen state and federal charges in Mississippi with counts ranging from sexual battery to attempting to bribe a witness. He had pleaded not guilty. A change of plea hearing is scheduled for Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Greenville, Miss., court records said.
Court filings in recent months indicate that Bowling has been involved in plea negotiations aimed at settling all the charges. Court records did not say to which charges he plans to plead guilty. His attorney, Christi McCoy of Oxford, Miss., did not immediately respond to a message Tuesday.
Bowling coached for 28 years at Smithville High School in Monroe County, Miss., before retiring and taking a similar job at Sulligent High in Sulligent, Ala. He was the coach for the Alabama school when he was arrested last September in Mississippi while on his way home from a football game. Authorities said a 13-year-old boy who was with Bowling at the time of his arrest accused him of improper touching.
Prosecutors said last week in a court filing that they were prepared to present numerous witnesses in the case, including four alleged victims.
"The testimony will include such facts as that Bowling attempted to touch their genitalia and engage in sexual intercourse with them," prosecutors said in document filed Friday. "This occurred at Bowling''s home, while fishing or at high school athletic complexes. This occurred while the witnesses were ages 13 to 18."
The federal charges Bowling faces are witness tampering and four counts of transporting minors across state lines in attempts to engage in illicit sexual activities. Investigators secretly recorded a conversation in which Bowling allegedly offered to pay one of the victims to lie about whether they''d had a sexual relationship, prosecutors have said.
Bowling also faced numerous state charges, including fondling and sexual battery, in Mississippi''s Monroe and Itawamba counties. He has been held without bail in the Lafayette County Jail in Mississippi.
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