May 1, 2007
A former Albemarle County high school soccer coach received a nine-year sentence for possessing hundreds of pictures of child pornography on his computer.
The sentence was no surprise. Raja Jabbour had agreed to nine years as part of a plea agreement with federal prosecutors. Prosecutors said what was shocking about this case was those images he kept.
“They are pictures that if the public saw, they would be reviled by seeing the types of images that are in these images,” said Assistant U.S. Attorney Nancy Healey.
Prosecutors found more than 300 sexually explicit pictures and videos of children on Jabbour's computers. Jabbour's attorney wants parents to know his client's behavior, although wrong, never escalated to touching children.
“Never once ever did he ask someone to come and meet him. It was all Internet,” said John Zwerling, Jabbour’s defense attorney.
“We know he was online with real minors and that exploits a child just as much as touching or physically touch[ing] exploits a child,” said Healey.
Jabbour asked one of those minors, a 12-year-old girl, to send him videos of her.
“He asked her to do certain things that no 12 year old should be asked to do, and he asked her in a way that was forceful and manipulative,” said Healey.
Jabbour admitted he was sexually assaulted when he was a child. Fighting back tears, he told the judge he was sorry for what he did and that he accepts responsibility.
“He wants to see if he can undo any of the damage that he did do. He is very grateful for the tremendous amount of support that he has received from the community,” said Zwerling.
This support was described as scores of letters from soccer moms and dads who stood behind the soccer coach.
Prosecutors warned these kinds of offenders wouldn't be successful if they weren't nice and manipulative.
A judge also ordered Jabbour be sent back to his native Lebanon upon his release from prison.