ROBERTS – The Roberts boys basketball coach is facing a misdemeanor charge of endangering the welfare of a child for allegedly kissing a 15-year-old female student multiple times during the previous school year.
John Wayne Payovich was charged with the crime on Aug. 16, according to documents obtained by MTN News Wednesday from Carbon County prosecutors.
Payovich does not work in the K-12 grade school outside of coaching, but, as of Wednesday afternoon, he was still hired to coach for the upcoming basketball season.
According to court documents, Payovich had met twice with the girl in December 2017 and January 2018, once at his home and once at her home.
He has denied kissing or touching the victim inappropriately, according to court documents.
Roberts Superintendent Alex Ator told MTN Wednesday that the district had first learned of the allegations in January 2018 and immediately placed Payovich on paid leave. The district hired an outside firm to conduct an investigation, which did not confirm the allegations, he said.
The district then forwarded the investigation to Carbon County prosecutors, Ator said. In June, the school board voted to re-hire Payovich back as the varsity boys basketball coach.
Ator said he learned of the criminal charges Wednesday from MTN and was drafting a suspension letter to place Payovich back on paid administrative leave.
According to court documents, the first kissing 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 victim described both incidents in an interview with a Carbon County sheriff’s deputy as a “boyfriend-girlfriend” type of kiss.
The district’s private investigator, Michelle Smith, also interviewed multiple students after hearing allegations of more serious sexual contact between the two, but she could corroborate those incidents, according to court documents.
According to Carbon County Deputy Attorney Shannon Foley said Payovich was arraigned in court on August 30th and pleaded not guilty. He has not been booked into jail and was released with standard release conditions according to Foley.
His next court date is October 15th.
Reporting by Andrea Lutz for MTN News