A former high school softball coach in Bucks County was sentenced to 3 1/2 to 7 years in a state prison on Friday for having sex with a 16-year-old player on his team.
Eric Romig, 36, who coached at Pennridge High School as well as a local travel team, must also register as a sex offender for the rest of his life.
Married with four children, Romig uttered a brief, tearful apology before a courtroom packed with the victim's relatives and some members of his own family, including his parents but not his wife and children.
"I ask and I beg for your forgiveness, even though I know I don't deserve it," he told the girl's family.
Romig is among a string of 11 area youth coaches charged in the last few years with engaging in sexual conduct with a player, or trying to.
He also is emblematic of the practice known as "passing the trash," in which schools let employees quietly resign amid allegations of sexual misconduct. Prosecutors said Romig was allowed to resign from Faith Christian Academy in Sellersville in 2009 for "medical reasons" after allegedly propositioning two players on the school's basketball team. The school has failed to return repeated calls for comment.
Romig arrived at Pennridge with a clean record. He had coached his victim since she was 14 and began his sexual relationship with her shortly after she turned 16. Romig and the girl exchanged hundreds of text messages a day, including explicit photos and videos of themselves.
Romig had pleaded guilty to several felonies, including corruption of a minor.
Before handing down Romig's sentence, Bucks County Judge John Rufe said he factored in the fact that previous allegations had been made against Romig.
At the beginning of the sentencing hearing, the victim's mother told the judge that her daughter was not Romig's first victim and likely won't be his last.
"I pray that no other girl or parent has to go through this because of him," she said.
Romig's attorney, Marc Steinberg, said he felt the sentence was "heavy" and will ask Romig if he wants to appeal.