NewsCrime and Courts


Roberts coach allowed on campus while facing charges of child endangerment

Posted at 4:33 PM, Sep 21, 2018
and last updated 2018-09-21 18:33:48-04

ROBERTS – The Roberts boys basketball coach accused of an inappropriate relationship with a female student continued working on school grounds for about a month after criminal charges were filed, the school superintendent said Thursday.

John Wayne Payovich was charged Aug. 16 with endangering the welfare of a child, a misdemeanor for the alleged relationship prosecutors said he had with a 15-year-old girl, according to court documents obtained Wednesday by MTN News from Carbon County prosecutors.

Roberts School Superintendent Alex Ator initially said he’d learned of the charges from an MTN reporter but changed his story Thursday, saying he knew about the charges against 35-year-old Payovich shortly after they were filed in August.

Ator first learned of the allegations in January 2018. He immediately placed Payovich on leave and hired an outside investigator.

After Ator learned of the allegations in January 2018, he immediately placed Payovich on paid leave. The outside firm conducting the investigation did not confirm the allegations, he said.

The district then forwarded the investigation to Carbon County prosecutors. Ator said he didn’t hear from Carbon County for six months on whether Payovich was going to be officially charged so in June the school board voted to re-hire Payovich back as the boys basketball coach.

Prosecutors allege that Payovich had met twice with the girl in December 2017 and January 2018, once at his home and once at her home.

The first kissing alleged incident occurred Dec. 22 at the victim’s home after he took her Christmas shopping. The second took place on Jan. 6 after at Payovich’s home after he was drinking after a basketball game, prosecutors allege.

The two had also exchanged text messages daily, according to court documents.

Payovich has already pleaded not guilty in court, denying to authorities there was any kissing or touching inappropriately.

Ator said Payovich has been holding open gym practices at the Roberts school as well as some surrounding schools.

He is currently now on paid leave.

Ator says he’s been waiting to get the school board together to address the suspension of Payovich at the next board meeting, which is scheduled for Sept. 26.

He said termination requires board action.

Related: Roberts boys basketball coach accused of inappropriate relationship with female student
Reporting by Andrea Lutz for MTN News