North DeSoto HS basketball coach arrested - - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

North DeSoto HS basketball coach arrested

Robert Bender, 46 (Source: DeSoto Parish Sheriff's Office) Robert Bender, 46 (Source: DeSoto Parish Sheriff's Office)

DeSoto Parish sheriff's detectives have arrested the boy's basketball coach from North DeSoto High School.

Robert Bender, 46, was arrested Thursday at the high school.

He is now being held in the DeSoto Parish Detention Center, charged with indecent behavior with a juvenile. He is expected to make his first court appearance on Friday.

Investigators say he had lewd contact with a 14-year-old female freshman at the high school.

DeSoto Parish Schools Superintendent Dr. Cade Brumley said on Thursday that the alleged incidents with the student occurred on campus. The student is still attending school, he says.

Bender was hired in 2007. He started as an assistant boys' basketball coach and special education teacher at the high school. He was promoted to head boys' basketball coach a few years ago.

Brumley also says that Bender submitted a letter of resignation to the school board in March for reasons unrelated to this investigation. Bender's resignation was to be effective at the end of April.

Now Bender is on administrative leave with pay, pending the outcome of the sheriff's investigation.

"If you needed anything you could go to Coach Bender and he would help you," says Former Student Shelby Rhodes.

She says she does not believe it is in Coach Bender's character to cross the line with a student. Rhodes describes Bender as a friendly and encouraging teacher.

"If you had family problems he would talk to you and give you his best advice," says Rhodes.

The sheriff learned of Bender's alleged behavior from the student's parent and launched an investigation earlier this week.

If convicted, he could spend up to 7 years in prison and/or a maximum $5,000 fine.

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