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Former Beaver County coach held for trial on sex assault charges

| Friday, Oct. 7, 2016, 4:30 p.m.

A former girls basketball coach from Beaver County was held for trial Friday on existing and newly added charges that he forced two teenage girls to have sex with him and other men.

Ralph Ruprecht, 50, of Freedom was arrested in late August on charges including rape, sexual assault and corruption of minors. At his preliminary hearing Friday in Pittsburgh Municipal Court, prosecutors added more charges, including sexual abuse of children, unlawful contact with minors, obstruction and intimidating a witness.

Magisterial District Judge James Motznik ordered Ruprecht to stand trial on 21 charges.

The two girls testified Ruprecht began texting them when they were 15, and eventually arranged to meet them to have sex. The Tribune-Review does not identify alleged victims of sexual assault.

One victim testified that she was first contacted via Facebook by someone claiming to be Ruprecht's sister, who recommended the victim meet Ruprecht because they “seemed compatible.” She eventually introduced Ruprecht to the second victim.

Between 2015 and early this year, Ruprecht arranged to meet the girls at hotels or at an apartment in the Strip District, where he would have sex with them. But sometimes, they testified, he would force them to do sex acts against their will or make them have sex with other men. One victim said he never threatened or hurt her, but the other said he threatened and hit her when she resisted.

The first victim said Ruprecht texted her from a new number in late August — the day before police arrived to talk to her — and told her to delete all his information from her phone and avoid contacting the other victim.

Defense attorney Steve Townsend said he had questions about the girls' allegations, though he conceded one was below the age of consent when she said she and Ruprecht started having sex.

“I'm not sure why someone would come back, or introduce their best friend to someone who was physically and sexually abusive,” he said.

Before his arrest, Ruprecht had been a basketball coach for his daughter's team in the Little Bridger basketball league in Ambridge for the past five years. There was no testimony Friday on whether there was any connection between either victim and the league.

Matthew Santoni is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at msantoni@tribweb.com or 412-391-0927.

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