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Mother, in court, rebukes swim coach as ‘pedophile, predator’

The mother of a teenage girl seduced and raped by her swim coach told a courtroom Friday that she fears her daughter “is still under the spell” of the man she called a pedophile and predator.

The girl was about 13 when Glenn Christopher Nellis began an exchange that resulted in thousands of sexual and pornographic email and text messages between them. Several years later he took her to a park and had sex with her. The family still struggles to counsel the girl, the mother said.

“We need to teach her that a kind and loving man doesn’t want to whip you, and have threesomes and bisexual sex to satisfy his depraved, vile and deviant sexual appetite,” the mother said.

Nellis was sentenced to three years in prison Friday, but not before the mother was finally offered the chance to publicly express her outrage over the sex crime that shocked her South Towns community. Nellis had been coach of the Eden Dolphins Swim Club, a team operated through the recreation department of the town where his father was supervisor. The victim was a longtime member of the club.

The mother read in the courtroom some of the messages sent to her daughter:

“I knew you were into sex when you were, like, 11,” one of his messages said.

In another, he called the girl “my underage angel.”

In yet another, he acknowledged that what he was doing was illegal but said, “I know how to get reasonable doubt.”

“Glenn Nellis is a pedophile and a predator,” the mother told the judge as a grim and nervous-looking Nellis stood a few feet away. “His actions single-handedly destroyed a swim club with more than 25 years’ history.”

Nellis, 42, pleaded guilty in August to third degree rape, promoting a sexual performance by a child and disseminating indecent material to a minor, all felonies. Justice John L. Michalski sentenced him to three years on the rape charge with seven years post-release supervision and one- to three-year terms on the other two charges, to run concurrently with the rape sentence. Nellis could have been sentenced to up to 11 years in prison.

The judge also signed an order of protection to keep Nellis away from his victim until at least 2029.

A phone call between Nellis and his victim was recorded after she came forward, Assistant District Attorney Lynette M. Reda earlier told the court.

In that converstion, the prosecutor said, Nellis is heard angrily telling the girl she shouldn’t have exposed him and that she needed to lie to her parents and recant her story.

Reda also mentioned that Nellis was fired as an assistant swim coach for the boys team at Eden High School in 2002 for “a prior incident,” which allegedly involved an improper relationship with another older female student. No charges were filed in that matter.

“There has been discussion of other victims,” defense attorney Anthony Lana countered, “but the fact is he is 42 years old and has no prior criminal record.”

Lana also said that a doctor who examined Nellis after his arrest determined that Nellis wasn’t a sexual deviant, that his sexual predilections were instead “character flaws.”

Nellis himself had only a few words for the court, his victim’s family and others from the community who were in court for the sentencing.

“I never set out to hurt anyone,” Nellis said in a high, shaking voice. “My actions have hurt (the victim’s) potential and stopped her from growing as a person. I think about her future all the time.”

He also said he was sorry for having brought shame on his family and his community. His father, who was supervisor for almost 18 years, lost his bid for re-election in November and the Eden Dolphins Swim Club dissolved last spring. Some former team members now swim with the Nickel City Race Club serving the Southtowns, and they still practice at the Eden Junior Senior High School pool.