A former Bengal was sentenced Wednesday after being convicted of having sexual relations with a 15-year-old girl.
Nathaniel "Nate" Webster Jr., 34, was sentenced to 12 years behind bars. He had been facing a possible sentence of anywhere from zero to twenty years in prison.
"I'm sorry, for my actions," Nate Webster said in court, apologizing to the victim's family.
"There is no reason or no explanation for what took place," Webster said. "You grow up fast in the NFL and miss out on values and what's important in life.
"This is nowhere near my character or my personality," he said through tears.
Webster went on to say he has since turned to God while in jail awaiting sentencing.
"I didn't know the importance of marriage, adultery, trust, loyalty," Webster admitted.
During his tearful statement to the court, Webster reached out for understanding from the judge.
"My boys they need … my kids they need me, man," Webster said through tears.
Those tears came too late, however, for Hamilton County Judge Ralph Winkler.
"In my opinion the defendant has not shown any remorse, until maybe today," Winkler said.
Even still, Nate's family stood behind him in support.
"He is not a monster, he is not a predator, not even a threat to the community," his mother Linda Webster said. "[He is] as an individual who has faltered in making bad decisions"
Webster's wife says she has forgiven her husband for those bad decisions.
"My husband is not perfect," Jennifer Webster said. "But he is far from being the monster he is accused of."
She asked the judge to pardon him as well.
"I am asking you for leniency when you are sentencing Nate," she said. "Not only for me, but for our family."
For the victim's family, however, they asked for the maximum sentence.
"This is the first time today I have ever heard that man say sorry," the victim's father told the court.
The father suggested forgiveness can come alongside punishment.
"He manipulated her mind and soul and used her body and broke her spirit," he said. "He toyed with this 15-year-old girl while knowing all along this was wrong."
"Your lies, your secrets, your sin; that's why we're all here. That's why we're all hurting," the victim's mother told Nate.
The victim herself gave her own apology for that pain.
"I apologize to anyone I hurt, including the Webster family," the teen said. "But I didn't do this alone, I had the help from a 31-year-old man."
Nate Webster was lead away in handcuffs to continue his now twelve year prison sentence.
"How does it feel knowing I couldn't sleep at night because every time I closed my eyes you were there?" the victim questioned Nate in court. "My childhood was stolen from me, something I can never get back."
The teen says she is putting the entire situation behind her and focusing on her future which includes a move to start college in the fall. She says she plans to study criminal justice.
Following the sentencing, Webster's family members gathered outside the courtroom to express their frustration with the sentencing.
"All I'm looking for is the truth and I believe in my heart that there is more to this case than meets the eye," Nate's mother Linda said.
The judge cited "overwhelming evidence" the teen was fifteen when Nate started having sex with the "child victim".
Judge Winkler says Webster must pay $40,000 dollars in fines and $3,400 dollars in restitution to the victim.
Webster was indicted in 2011 on charges of gross sexual imposition, sexual battery and five counts of unlawful sexual conduct with a minor.
A jury found him guilty in April of four counts of unlawful sexual conduct with a minor and found him not guilty on the other charges. Webster's attorneys argued during the trial that the victim was 16 years old at the time of the offense, which is the legal age of consent in Ohio.
According to Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters, Webster began engaging in the sexual conduct when the victim was 15 years old. Deters said the incidents took place "dozens" of times, but Webster is only being charged for the incidents that took place when the victim was 15-years-old.
Deters said Webster had a gun during some of the incidents and threatened to harm the girl and her family if she told anyone. The teen is the daughter of a former Bengals coach.
The victim finally told her parents about the abuse.
Webster's attorney says Webster will appeal the verdict and sentence. Prosecutors say Webster rejected a plea deal that would have sent him to prison for four years.
"Nate and his defense team with their arrogance and egos turned down a plea deal with the thought that he would be exonerated from all charges by squarely placing the blame of an adult's actions on a 15-year-old child," the victim's father said in court.
Webster was traded to the Bengals in 2004 after being drafted by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2000. He signed as a free agent with the Denver Broncos in 2006. He hasn't played since 2008.
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