Melissa Bowerman pleads guilty to sexual abuse charge

By Jim Ryan | The Oregonian | February 23, 2016

Melissa Bowerman, a former Madras High School track coach, pleaded guilty to one count of second-degree sexual abuse Monday and was sentenced to five years of probation, according to court records.

Bowerman, the 45-year-old daughter-in-law of late Nike co-founder Bill Bowerman, was accused of having sexual contact with a student she coached, according to court records.

The charge alleges that she touched the 17-year-old boy's genital area, Jefferson County District Attorney Steven Leriche said in a news release. The abuse lasted from May to July 2014, he said.

She also was accused of sending nude photographs of herself to the boy and exchanging sexual messages with him.

Stephen Houze, Bowerman's attorney, said his client's sentence comes after lengthy discussions with the district attorney and extensive forensic psychological evaluations.

"Those evaluations revealed that Ms. Bowerman was suffering from a previously undiagnosed mental health condition, which is best treated in the community," Houze said. "In fact, Ms. Bowerman has been actively engaged in that treatment for many months."

The conditions of her probation prohibit her from contacting the victim, according to court records. She also must register as a sex offender, Leriche said in the news release.

She isn't allowed to have any "direct, indirect, or attempted contact" with any boys unless the court or her probation officer approves it, court records show. She's allowed to see boys who are members of her family.

Bowerman can't be involved with any organizations that would lead her to associate with youths, and she's not allowed to use the Internet unless the court or her probation officer give her the go-ahead.

She isn't allowed to have or view media for the purposes of sexual arousal or go somewhere featuring live adult entertainment, such as a strip club.

She was arrested in July 2014 in her Fossil home and bailed out of jail the following month. Two other charges - using a child in a display of sexually explicit conduct and luring a minor - were dismissed Monday as part of Bowerman's plea deal, according to the news release.

Another count of second-degree sexual abuse also was dismissed Monday, court records show. If she violates the terms of her plea agreement, she could face up to 1 1/2 years in prison.

In 2012, Bowerman was dismissed as a volunteer track and field coach for the Fossil School District after she took a 17-year-old male student to his prom.

"Ms. Bowerman has taken responsibility for her actions," Houze said, "and the resolution reached ... serves the needs of the community and reflects the importance of being able to obtain necessary mental health care.