On the day his trial was to have begun, a soccer coach accused of trying to engage a 14-year-old girl in sex pleaded guilty Tuesday in Baltimore County Circuit Court to one count of sexual solicitation of a minor.
Charles Friedel, a 33-year-old Middle River resident, had offered to give the girl private soccer lessons last summer and then propositioned her in text messages, according to Baltimore County State's Attorney Scott D. Shellenberger, who prosecuted the case. Friedel's messages carried sexually explicit pictures of himself, and he asked her to send him similar images, the prosecutor said.
The girl told her parents about the messages. The couple summoned the police, who assumed the identity of the girl in text messages and arranged a meeting at a Royal Farms store. Friedel, who Shellenberger said agreed to meet the girl "for the purpose of engaging in sex with her," was arrested when he showed up at the convenience store.
Friedel was charged with five counts, including sexual solicitation of a minor, solicitation of child pornography and distribution of obscene matter to a minor. His admission of guilt to the single count was the result of a plea arrangement with Shellenberger and Assistant State's Attorney Stephanie Porter.
Judge John G. Turnbull set Friedel's sentencing for May 19. The maximum sentence is 10 years and a $25,000 fine.
Shellenberger complimented the girl and her parents for "displaying the courage to promptly report this criminal behavior so that a child predator could be brought to justice." He said also that anyone else who might have had any "inappropriate contact" with Friedel is urged to contact the Baltimore County Police Department.