POTTSVILLE - Sobbing as he apologized, a well-known high-school coach was sentenced yesterday to up to four years in state prison for secretly videotaping female athletes in a locker room and sexually molesting one of them.

Daniel Shields Jr., 62, who had decades of experience coaching track and football at Nativity BVM High School in Pottsville, saw his career come to an abrupt end in 2005, when two recent graduates broke into his house, retrieved a videotape that showed three members of the girls track team in various stages of undress, and gave it to police.

Nearly two years later, Shields took the witness stand at his sentencing hearing and broke down as he apologized for his crimes and asked forgiveness.

"I'm sorry for what I did. I know I did wrong," he said. "I made a mistake . . . I betrayed your trust. I've been asking myself why, why? I can't find an answer."

Shields admitted that he videotaped the girls and sexually assaulted one of them on numerous occasions in 2005. He pleaded guilty March 1 to sexual abuse of children, indecent assault and other offenses.

He was sentenced yesterday to 18 months to four years in state prison, followed by six years' probation. When he gets out of prison, he will have to register as a sex offender under Megan's Law.

Friends and relatives of the victims packed one side of the courtroom, while Shields' family and friends packed the other for an emotionally charged hearing that painted two completely different pictures of the man.

The complimentary picture was of a man who mentored hundreds of students over the years, taught the value of hard work and persuaded would-be dropouts to stay in school, and who was devoted to his late wife and his two daughters, both of whom testified on his behalf. *