Ex-softball coach pleads guilty to raping girl in Clark County

Lacey man assaulted 15 year old during tournament

By Laura McVicker, Columbian staff writer

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A former Olympia-area softball coach pleaded guilty Thursday to raping a 15-year-old girl on his team during a tournament in the summer of 2011 in Clark County.

Dennis L. Wells, 40, of Lacey pleaded guilty in Clark County Superior Court to third-degree rape of a child. He will be sentenced Oct. 12, and faces between 12 and 14 months in prison.

Wells was in Clark County with his Olympia-area fast-pitch softball team, Capitol Lady Outlaws, for a tournament when the incident occurred on July 8, 2011.According to court documents, the girl was staying with Wells in an RV when, she said, she woke to Wells sexually touching her. She later told investigators she had tried to roll away from Wells, but "he kept grabbing her arms and pushing her back toward him," according to affidavit of a court summons.When the girl arrived back home in the Olympia area, she told her mother and sister about the event.

The girl's younger sister then told her that Wells had made sexual attempts toward her while on a softball trip in King County, according to court documents.

Wells pleaded guilty last month in King County Superior Court to communicating with a minor for immoral purposes in connection with that case.

When the 15-year-old sent a text message to Wells confronting him about the sex crimes, he responded via text: "I'm sorry for what I did to you guys. I want you both to realize this is my issue and you should not take blame," among other statements, according to court documents.

Resigned from team

Wells immediately told representatives of the fast-pitch team about the allegations and resigned his coaching position that same day, said Outlaws general manager Lori Braniff.The two sisters were removed from the team as seasons were winding down for both girls. The organization said it was appropriate "to remove all innocent parties to focus on the other players," Braniff said, noting Wells also had two daughters on the team.Braniff also said Wells had a personal relationship with the girls' mom, and the 15-year-old had chosen to stay with Wells in the RV, even though there was a team room.

"The organization has nothing to do with this," she said.

Laura McVicker: http://www.facebook.com/reportermcvicker;laura.mcvicker@columbian.com; 360-735-4516; http://www.twitter.com/col_courts.