Former highschool basketball coach skirts jail time following decoy sting

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — A former high school basketball coach from Tracy, arrested in Sacramento following an online decoy sting in September of last year, will avoid jail time after pleading no contest to one felony count of arranging a meeting with a minor for lewd purposes.

Ronald R. Lovell, 56, will spend 180 days in a Sheriff’s work project, has registered as a sex offender, and will attend sex offender counseling for at least a year. He will report to the Sacramento County Main Jail for his work assignment in February and will be placed on two years of searchable probation, where he’ll be restricted from owning firearms or volunteering in programs with minors without a judge’s permission.

Lovell previously worked as a girls’ sophomore basketball coach at Kimball High School from 2010 to 2015, and as the head coach of the girls’ varsity team at West High School from 2015 to 2019, before retiring from the district later that year.

He was arrested among 18 others last September following a one-week undercover investigation by the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Office, Operation to Catch-a-Predator, named after the old Dateline NBC show of the same name hosted by Chris Hansen.

According to a public hardcopy of an arrest report written by deputies, Lovell showed up to the Fairfield Inn & Suites in Rancho Cordova after allegedly communicating with an undercover deputy posing as a 13-year-old child online.

Authorities say Lovell shared explicit text messages and shared graphic photos before arranging to meet up with the would-be teen, showing up at the hotel room where he was nabbed.

Due to his quick plea and cooperation with investigators, no specific information regarding the messages or photographs Lovell sent to the decoy have been filed in the public record. Several requests for documents sent to all involved public agencies were denied pursuant to Government Code Section 6254(f), which protects internal investigatory files.

Ethan Biando
Ethan Biando is a freelance journalist from Sacramento. His writing focuses on crime, courts, and policing. Find him on Twitter @ethanb822

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