A former soccer coach accused of having sex with a minor will likely avoid prison time — thanks to a legal procedure in Minnesota that allows a suspect to plead guilty while claiming no recollection of the crime.
Specifically, a Norgaard plea, as it is called, is used when a defendant was so intoxicated or otherwise suffering from amnesia at the time of an alleged crime that they don’t recall what they may or may not have done.
Rebecca Noonan, 33, a former high school girl’s soccer coach, entered a Norgaard guilty please in response to charges that she had sex with a 13-year-old boy in 2014. According to the Minnesota Star-Tribune, Noonan claimed she was so drunk at the time of the incident that she does not recall what she actually did.
A critical feature of this Norgaad plea deal is that Noonan’s case will be dismissed if she meets all the requirements of sentencing, which is called a “stay of adjudication.” She will reportedly have to undergo a psychosexual evaluation ahead of sentencing, which is scheduled in April. Her defense attorney Scott Lewis told the Star-Tribune that he expects the judge to accept the plea deal, sparing his client jail time. He also said Noonan “has always maintained her innocence.”
The Norgaad plea is “essentially an acquittal without the risk of a trial,” Lewis said.
Noonan was charged with fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct stemming from the 2014 in which she and the 13-year-old reportedly had sex in his Ramsey, Minnesota, home while the teen’s mother was away. When Noonan submitted her guilty plea, she made this statement: “I was so drunk or so under the influence of drugs or medicine that I did not know what was doing at the time of the crime.” According to the charging document, she allegedly told the boy to keep it a secret because she could go to prison.
Noonan previously coached girls’ soccer at the Champlin Park High School, but in 2015, around the time she was charged, school officials declined to renew her contract.
Photo: Anoka County Jail