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Boys basketball coach accused of raping teen student at home after reaching out on ‘dating hookup site’

 Eric McDermott

Pictured: Fairmont Junior High (ABC 6/screengrab), Eric Michael McDermott (Ada County Sheriff’s Office)

A 59-year-old geography teacher and boys basketball coach in Idaho is accused of raping a teen student after sending nude photos to the victim, whom he allegedly contacted through a “dating hookup site” in 2020.

Fairmont Junior High School’s Eric Michael McDermott is on leave as the Boise School District cooperates with law enforcement in Ada County after allegations that the educator and coach committed rape and sexual battery against a 16-year-old boy. McDermott allegedly taught the victim when the student was 15 years old.

McDermott was arrested by the Boise City Police Department on April 17 and hauled before a magistrate judge in Ada County to face felony charges of rape and sexual battery committed by lewd or lascivious acts against a 16- to 17-year-old minor. Under Idaho law, rape is defined as the “penetration, however slight, of the oral, anal or vaginal opening with a penis.” The statute specifically criminalizes such acts when the victim is “sixteen (16) or seventeen (17) years of age” and the “perpetrator is three (3) years or more older than the victim, and the victim is not lawfully married to the perpetrator.”

The sexual battery charge makes it a felony “for any person at least five (5) years of age older than a minor child who is sixteen (16) or seventeen (17) years of age” to engage in sexual contact “with the intent of arousing, appealing to or gratifying the lust, passion, or sexual desires of such person, minor child, or third party.”

According to the Idaho Statesman, prosecutors revealed at McDermott’s arraignment one week ago that the defendant communicated with the teen boy on a “dating hookup site” and sent nude photos for days before the alleged rape at McDermott’s home. Court records list the date of offense as March 21, 2020.

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The allegations against McDermott emerged a matter of months after a Fairmont Junior High social worker died by suicide. That social worker was reportedly under investigation for an “inappropriate” relationship with the student, and charges were even brought against the school’s former principal for an alleged failure to report abuse.

The Boise School District responded to McDermott’s arrest by “immediately” placing him on leave and attempting to reassure concerned parents who threatened to pull their kids out of school.

“We recognize that each and every parent has the right to place their child in an educational environment that they feel is best for their child. We also welcome any Fairmont parent with concerns to reach out to Fairmont’s administration to engage in a conversation about any and all concerns, which will be addressed,” the district said, according to Idaho News 6. “Again, we are committed to the long-term success of Fairmont and the safety and security of the students that we are honored to serve there each and every day.”

The district separately said it would “fully” cooperate with the McDermott investigation.

The teacher and coach remains behind bars on a $1,000,000 bond, which was set on Tuesday, April 18.

Ada County court records reviewed by Law&Crime show that Eric McDermott got a divorce in 2012 and had several speeding violations from 2011 all the way back to 1990. His legal exposure is much more significant now.

In Idaho, rape is punishable by up to life in prison upon conviction. Sexual battery is punishable by up to 25 years.

Court records list McDermott’s defense attorney as J.D. Merris. Law&Crime reached out to the attorney for comment.

A preliminary hearing in the case is set for Thursday morning.

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Matt Naham is the Senior A.M. Editor of Law&Crime.