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Coach's Prosecutor Vilified, Lauded

LOUISVILLE -- (AP) -- Three-term Jefferson County Prosecutor Dave Stengel has waded into community-dividing cases before, but maybe none more so than when he charged popular Pleasure Ridge Park High School football coach Jason David Stinson last month with reckless homicide in the heat-related death of a teenage player.

His message to the community echoed the one in his case against the priest.

"This is not about football, this is not about coaches," Stengel said. "This is about an adult person who was responsible for the health and welfare of a child."

Since the indictment in what is thought to be an unprecedented criminal case against a coach in a player's heat death, hundreds of parents, students, players and other supporters have rallied to support Stinson. It also has opened the 62-year-old Stengel to criticism.

"I'd say this coach's life is pretty much destroyed," said Ernie Sanders, a retired teacher and a graduate of Pleasure Ridge. He called for Stengel to resign in a letter to the editor in The Courier-Journal, saying the prosecutor "has a very flexible set of rules when applying the law."

But the criticism won't influence Stengel's decision-making, friends and former colleagues said.

"I have never known him once to ask what the public might think or what any interest group might think," said Jeff Derouen, executive director of the Public Service Commission, who worked for Stengel for seven years.


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