WAUSAU (WAOW) - Perjury charges against a former Athens girls basketball coach and his wife were dismissed Thursday.
Rory McKellips and his wife, Constance, were each charged with one count of perjury following a trial in which the husband was convicted of using a computer to facilitate a sex crime with one of the girls on his team.
McKellips was charged in 2011 after a then-15-year-old player told authorities she had sexual contact with McKellips three times over several months at his home.
A jury convicted McKellips, 56, of one felony and one misdemeanor but found him innocent of a felony count of repeated sexual assault of a child.
After the trial, the McKellips were charged with perjury as prosecutors contended the couple lied about Rory McKellips' personal grooming habits, providing a different account than the girl that reflected on her credibility.
About a dozen paper mill workers came forward reporting they had showered with McKellips at a mill over a period of years and never saw his genital area shaved, Marathon County Assistant District Attorney Theresa Wetzsteon said Thursday.
But Marathon County Circuit Judge Mike Moran ruled Thursday that testimony about McKellips' grooming habits in the perjury trial had to be limited to the summer of 2011, dramatically weakening the state's case, Wetzsteon said.
The perjury trial was set to start Monday and prosecutors asked the judge to dismiss the charges, Wetzsteon said.
Rory McKellips is to be sentenced on the computer sex crime conviction on Dec. 6. He faces up to 40 years in prison.
According to Wetzsteon, the judge will be able to take into account the perjury allegation during McKellips' sentencing, meaning the mill workers' efforts were not in vain.
"I definitely think the court will take it into due consideration," she said. "The worst thing that could happen from all this would be to discourage people from coming forward and doing the right thing."
Thomas E. Brown, McKellips' attorney, said McKellips makes no admissions in the deal to dismiss the perjury charge but let the judge consider it at sentencing.
“While we would have enjoyed our day in court, this was probably in his best interests,” Brown said. “I am 67 years old. I have been doing this since I was 23, mostly criminal work, and this is the first time I have had a client charged with perjury after there was a somewhat favorable outcome (at trial).”