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Man gets sentence of community service for sexual exploitation of a child

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Zachary Meints

(Photo: Boulder County Sheriff's Office)

A judge sentences a former Boulder youth hockey coach who pleaded guilty to sexual exploitation of a child.

Zachary “Zack” Meints was originally charged with five counts. But a plea bargain reduced it to one.

He faced up to 12 years in prison.

But he won’t spend a day in jail.

“Is there anything you’d like to say?” asks FOX 31 Denver photographer Josh Winstead. “Please don’t take our picture,” is how Mike Meints, Zack’s father, responds.

He didn’t want us to take their picture.

He also didn’t want his son to go to jail

At least, the judge agreed with him–sentencing the 24-year-old to 10 years intensive supervised probation.

“It’s painful for everybody, I think. I think the judge was fair and I’m happy it’s over,” says Meints’ defense attorney, Richard Bloch.

Meints was supposed to teach kids the game of hockey.

But those lessons crossed the line into criminal conduct after sending thousands of texts and facebook messages asking for naked pictures and making other sexual requests.

The father of one victim told the court: “He took some of my son’s innocence, caused significant harm to him. No child should be preyed upon, especially by someone in a position of trust.”

That father said Meints took advantage of a vulnerable boy who had just lost his mother to cancer.

The mother of another victim told the judge her oldest son feels tremendous guilt because he never told anyone what Meints was doing to him. Then, came to learn he started doing it to his younger brother too.

Then, Meints himself addressed the court, saying, “I never intended to cause distress or harm to anyone. And I am sorry to all the victims in the case.”

Meints’ dad also turned to the parents of four victims in court and said, “I’m sorry. I wish it didn’t happen. I hope your children are okay and can pick up and move forward…It’s very important you hear from us, I’m sorry,” he said.

Meints and his family hope their remorse keeps him out of prison. But his family also tells the judge sending Meints to prison could be a danger to him.

They claim Meints suffers from extreme Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder–triggered by his jailing in this case.

Meints claims a stranger snatched him off the street at gunpoint and raped him in a car when he was 13.

He says he never told anyone other than a childhood friend because the man said he’d kill his family.

The judge agrees to take prison off the table.

The prosecution was asking for 90-days work release for punitive punishment. That would mean he’d work during the day and stay in jail at night.

Instead, the judge sentences him to 150 hours community service.

The judge hopes treatment will keep Meints from ever hurting anyone else.

“The most important thing this case brought to light is the importance of parents talking to their kids, especially kids involved in sports, of the importance of what goes on there, and not to lose their kids behind the closed doors,” says Timothy Johnson, Boulder Deputy DA.

Meints must also register as a sex offender for 10 years after he completes probation.

He can have no contact with any victims, the hockey clubs he once belonged to, or anyone under 18 years of age.

Six of the seven kids who admitted to being victimized by Meints no longer play hockey in Boulder.

And the coach who blew the whistle on Meints also moved.

The judge said it is sad they were driven out of their hometown leagues and disturbing other parents apparently told their kids not to tell anyone what happened.

Johnson said a criminal investigation is underway because of allegations local hockey clubs knew what was going on and did nothing to stop it.