The firing this week of a title-winning Minnesota high school tennis coach came after prosecutors say he mistakenly believed he was swapping sexually charged texts with a 15-year-old girl he thought was game for a liaison in a western Wisconsin apartment.
Instead, 59-year-old Kevin J. Rust showed up one night in late June outside a Rice Lake apartment complex only to be met by police, according to charges filed in Barron County District Court on July 2.
Rust, fired Wednesday from Benilde-St. Margaret High School as its boys tennis coach, was charged July 2 with use of a computer to facilitate a child sex crime, child enticement and attempted second-degree sexual assault of a child all felonies.
His firing on Wednesday was announced the same day in a statement from Benilde-St. Margaret President Adam Ehrmantraut.
The statement did not explain why the dismissal came more than 10 weeks after Rust was charged. District Attorney Brian Wright said that he only learned on Thursday that Rust was a coach of minors.
Rust, of Minnetonka, was booked into jail upon being charged and later released on bond. A message was left with Rusts attorney, Joseph Tamburino, seeking a response to the allegations.
Rust had coached at Benilde-St. Margarets for the past three years, joining the Catholic school after retiring from coaching at Lourdes High School in Rochester.
The State High School Tennis Coaches Association inducted Rust to its Hall of Fame in 2012, in honor of his 11 Class 1A team championships in 12 years with the Lourdes girls team.
According to the criminal complaint:
On June 14, Rust answered a listing on a personals ad website titled younger lady looking for older. Soon after, the undercover officer started receiving text messages from Rust.
On June 22, Rust said in a text to Lyla that he was 54 years old, and the officer replied that she was almost 16.
The message quickly turned sexual, with Rust saying he want to have various forms of sex with her.
A few days later, the two started arranging a meeting for a sexual encounter on June 28.
Rust showed up in Rice Lake that night and texted to her that he was nervous about seeing what he suspected were law enforcement vehicles watching the area.
Putting that worry aside, Rust drove to the apartment complex and was arrested in the parking lot.
The undercover officer interviewed Rust, and he admitting thinking the texts were with a 15-year-old girl, but he denied he made the two-hour trip to have sex with Lyla.
Paul Walsh 612-673-4482