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Sex offenders caught coaching youths

Morrison man designated a sexual predator

MORRISON – Two men convicted of sexual crimes against children now face more criminal charges after being caught coaching youth sports, Whiteside County deputies say.

Philip J. Plattenberger, 39, of Mount Carroll, a former teacher, turned himself in early Tuesday and was released with a notice to appear in court.

He is charged with unlawful presence of a sex offender within a prohibited zone, a felony punishable by 1 to 3 years in prison, and two misdemeanor counts of a child offender present at a public park.

Scott A. Eyrich, 38, of Morrison, a designated sexual predator, was arrested in late October; he, too, was charged with unlawful presence of a sex offender within a prohibited zone.

His pretrial conference is Nov. 28.

Whiteside County Sheriff’s Lt. Andy Henson said police received an anonymous tip in late August that Plattenberger, a registered sex offender since 2001, was coaching the Midwest Mudcats, a traveling baseball team for boys 12 and younger based in Clinton, Iowa.

According to the criminal complaint filed Tuesday, Plattenberger “coached or participated in coaching” the team at the Morrison Sports Complex on Sept. 16 and Oct. 21.

He pleaded guilty to indecent solicitation of a child in Carroll County in 2001 and was sentenced to 2 years of probation and 60 days in jail.

Plattenberger, then 27, was an assistant coach and physical education teacher at Eastland High School in Lanark when he began corresponding online with and seeking sex from a 16-year-old girl. He met her at the school after a basketball game, took her into a locked room and kissed her, court records show.

His teaching license has since been revoked.

A few days after receiving the tip about Plattenberger, the sheriff’s department was contacted by the Illinois Attorney General’s Office, which had received a tipline call about Eyrich.

According to court documents, Eyrich coached children ages 6 to 8 for the Northern Illinois Youth Tackle Football team in Fulton. He was with the team at the River Bend Middle School on Aug. 13, the documents said.

Eyrich was convicted of attempted criminal sexual assault by force in Michigan when he was 30. The child was 7.

Sex offenders must register with the Illinois Sex Offender registry anywhere from 10 years to life.

Eyrich was deemed a sexual predator and must register for life. Plattenberger was required to register for 10 years, and so was taken off the registry in 2011, but still must adhere to laws pertaining to child sex offenders.

That means neither man can live within 500 feet of a school or playground, can have unsupervised access to or custody of a child or be in a public park or any building or property within a park.

Henson did not know how long the men had been coaching. Calls to the Mudcats and the youth tackle group were not returned Tuesday.

Both organizations cooperated with the investigation, Henson said.

Schools are required to do background checks on all employees; private organizations are not. Henson encourages such groups to access the sex offender registry to keep up to date on offenders in the area.

“It’s about safety for the children,” he said. “It’s sad we have to think about this.”

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