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Former Archbishop Carroll AD pleads guilty to corrupting minor

The former athletic director at Archbishop John Carroll High School pleaded guilty Tuesday to charges that he arranged a sex tryst with a teen he once recruited to play football at the suburban school.

The former athletic director at Archbishop John Carroll High School pleaded guilty Tuesday to charges that he arranged a sex tryst with a teen he once recruited to play football at the suburban school.

Francis Murphy, 39, of Bryn Mawr, faces up to 14 years in prison after pleading guilty in Montgomery County Court to unlawful contact and corruption of a minor. His lawyers called the crime an "isolated incident" and said they would argue against a jail term.

Murphy's arrest in April - outside a Bridgeport ice cream store where police said he expected to meet the boy for sex - stunned students, faculty, and alumni at the Radnor Township school.

Murphy had been a Carroll coach since the 1990s, guiding its baseball team to four Catholic League championships and serving as offensive coordinator for several of its high-scoring football teams.

In 1999, he took over as the school's athletic director.

His victim, authorities said, was a football player whom Murphy had recruited more than two years ago, when the boy was in the ninth grade. The student later left Carroll for financial reasons, but maintained e-mail contact with Murphy.

According to prosecutors, their online talk turned sexual earlier this year, when the teen was in the 11th grade. Murphy offered to buy sneakers and sports gear for the boy, and to be his "sugar daddy," they said.

The victim and his mother told authorities. Posing as the teen on Facebook, county detectives continued the conversation with Murphy and arranged a sex rendezvous.

When Murphy arrived at the Frosty Falls Ice Cream shop, they arrested him.

The Archdiocese of Philadelphia placed Murphy on leave in the wake of the charges. The school formally cut its ties with Murphy this summer, when it opted not to renew his contract.

"We tried to move on from that months ago," said the Rev. Edward Casey, the school president and an assistant baseball coach under Murphy.

The former athletic director entered his plea during a brief pretrial hearing. Judge William J. Furber Jr. set no sentencing date. Murphy remains free on $250,000 bail, but is barred from any contact with minors, in person or electronically.

His lawyer, William Winning, described the crime as "a noncontact, electronic communication" and a "tragic mistake" unrelated to Murphy's roles as a coach or athletic director.

Winning said he and lawyer Timothy Woodward hope to call or introduce statements from former players and other supporters at Murphy's sentencing. They will argue he should be spared from prison.

"This is an isolated incident in the context of an impeccable record of service and contribution to the community," they said in a statement.

The prosecutor on the case, Assistant District Attorney Samantha Cauffman, called such a description "offensive." Cauffman said she would argue for a state prison term.

"What he did flies in the face of any work-related accomplishments he could put forth at sentencing - because he abused his position to hurt a child," she said.

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