Matthew Johnsen's trial will not start on Monday on allegations he had sexual conduct with two former team members. The trial has been delayed in light of potential new evidence being reviewed in the case.

CANTON  The trial of a former Hoover High School swim coach accused of sexual conduct with two former team members will not start on Monday as scheduled.

Matthew Johnsen, 40, previously pleaded not guilty to two felony sexual battery charges. In late August, he resigned as an English teacher and head swimming coach at Hoover.

During a hearing Friday in Stark County Common Pleas Court, Judge Chryssa Hartnett granted a trial continuance at the request of the Stark County Prosecutor's Office. Assistant Prosecutor Fred Scott said that "new evidence has come to light in the case (and) it involves a computer the state didn't know existed (until recently)."

Scott said that prosecutors believe information stored on the computer is pertinent to the case. The computer was analyzed over the course of four to five days, he said.

Following the analysis, prosecutors received 300 pages of information on Thursday night and then provided it Friday morning to the defense and judge.

Delaying the trial will give both sides time to "digest" the information, Hartnett said.

"I think it's most fair to everybody," she added. Hartnett said the documents potentially could contain exculpatory or incriminating information.

A pretrial hearing has been set for March 9. A new trial date has not been scheduled. Johnsen is being represented by attorneys Anthony Koukoutas and Aaron Kovalchik.

Hartnett will review the documents before ruling on whether the information is admissible as evidence in Johnsen's trial.

She approved Scott's request to file the motion for a continuance under seal because it contains information the judge believes could taint a potential jury pool.

At Friday's hearing, Hartnett said she also has yet to rule on other motions filed in the case related to the introduction of potential evidence at trial.

The sexual battery charges are third-degree felonies. If convicted, Johnsen faces up to five years in prison on each count.

Johnsen, who had a roughly 15-year coaching and teaching career at Hoover, is accused of sexual conduct with a then-17-year-old swimmer from June 2006 to May 2007 at Hoover High School and Dogwood Pool in North Canton, according to court records filed in the case by the Stark County Prosecutor's Office.

He's also accused of sexual conduct with a second swimmer from June 2004 to May 2006 at Hoover High School, the North Canton YMCA, where the Hoover swim team practiced, and Dogwood Pool, where Johnsen worked as a lifeguard manager. She was 16 when the alleged conduct began, court records show.

While age 16 is the age of sexual consent in Ohio, sexual conduct between a coach and athlete is considered a felony crime under state law.

Reach Ed at 330-580-8315


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