• Former Lower Burrell swim coach pleads guilty to having sexual relationship with student

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    LOWER BURRELL, Pa. - A former assistant swim coach at a Westmoreland County high school pleaded guilty to charges including indecent assault and aggravated indecent assault.

    Raymond Novak, 33, was expected to take the stand but instead pleaded guilty Monday, the sixth day of his trial in Westmoreland County Court.

    He faces five to 10 years in prison under the terms of a plea agreement.

    Novak told the court he was pleading guilty on the advice of his attorney.  Novak faced the mandatory sentence of 15 to 30 years, so his attorney encouraged him to take a plea deal.

    “Without specifically pleading guilty to the charges, we felt that it was in his best interest in that situation to let the judge know that he would accept the commonwealth's offer of five to 10," said defense attorney Duke George.

    Novak's accuser testified last week that she had sexual contact with the coach at her home and at the Burrell High School pool during the 2008-2009 school year.

    Novak's attorney said in his opening statement that the teen had made up the accusation because she was infatuated with the coach.

    Prosecutors said the pair exchanged thousands of messages over a four-month period.

    After Monday's plea, Novak's attorney spoke with the victim and her family.

    "We wanted to leave the courtroom, letting them know thank God it's over and move on with your life and hopefully everything will be OK," said George.

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