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MOUNT VERNON – One of Mount Vernon Nazarene University’s most accomplished coaches was arrested Tuesday and charged with a fourth-degree felony.

Paul Swanson, the university’s longtime volleyball coach, has been charged with gross sexual imposition. According to Mount Vernon Municipal Court records, Swanson is charged with violating section 2907.05(A)(5) of the Ohio Revised Code, which states the following:

No person shall have sexual contact with a person who is not their spouse, cause another person to have sexual contact with them, or cause two or more other persons to have sexual contact when “the ability of the other person to resist or consent or the ability of one of the other persons to resist or consent is substantially impaired because of a mental or physical condition or because of advanced age,” and the offender is aware of this fact.

Swanson, 67, of Mount Vernon, is charged with committing the violation on Saturday, court records indicate. He was arrested by the Mount Vernon Police Department on Tuesday and is being held in the Knox County Jail.

According to a press release from the university, written by president Dr. Henry W. Spaulding II, law enforcement has informed MVNU that “the behavior is not alleged to have taken place on campus or involve any person affiliated with the university, past or present.”

Under the Ohio Revised Code, Swanson faces a potential sentence of 6-18 months in prison and a fine of up to $5,000 if he is found guilty. Swanson is scheduled to be arraigned on Friday at 11 a.m. He will then be given the opportunity to enter a plea.

The university has placed Swanson on administrative leave, effective immediately. Spaulding II said in his statement that “the news of Coach Swanson’s arrest is a shock to me and to everyone at the university.” This fall marked Swanson’s 36th season as MVNU’s head volleyball coach, making him the longest-tenured coach at the university. He also teaches physical education at MVNU.

“Like every American, he is innocent until proven guilty. However, when a charge of this nature is made against a member of the MVNU family, we must respond swiftly with a focus on ensuring the safety and health of our students and staff,” Spaulding II said of the university’s decision. “We offer our prayers for all who are impacted by these developments.”

Spaulding said the university will issue no further comment at this time, “as this is a legal matter involving allegations outside of the university.”

Over the last four decades, Swanson has made his mark as one of the nation’s top collegiate volleyball coaches. Swanson has racked up 1,151 wins in his time at MVNU, winning 72 percent of his matches. He was elected into the National Christian College Athletic Association Hall of Fame in 2005, the MVNU Cougar Wall of Fame in 2006 and the NAIA Hall of Fame in 2008.

During the 2012 season, Swanson became the first NAIA women's volleyball coach to reach 1,000 victories. He currently ranks second in the nation in all-time wins.

Last year, during MVNU’s Homecoming Weekend (which celebrated its 50th anniversary), the competition court in Ariel Arena was named in Swanson’s honor.

Swanson has also been recognized for his efforts in the classroom. In 2002, he was honored as the recipient of MVNU's President's Award for Excellence in Teaching.

This is a developing story. Knox Pages will provide updates as more information becomes available.

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