Former Harpeth Hall soccer coach George "Rico" Laise appeared in Davidson County Criminal Court Wednesday morning for the first time since his arrest on rape charges on June 4.
After hearing testimony from Metro Nashville Police Department detective Charles Fleming, Judge Dan Eisenstein bound over all four of Laise’s charges to the Davidson County grand jury.
Laise, wearing an orange jail jumpsuit, stared ahead blankly and shook his head periodically as Fleming laid out the case against him from the witness stand.
Police were first notified about Laise’s sexual relationship with a teenager soccer player in May from a Department of Children’s Services referral, according to Fleming.
Fleming testified that the police department set up two controlled phone calls between the alleged victim and Laise, in which he acknowledged the sexual relationship.
When police interviewed Laise for the first time, he denied a relationship with the now 17-year-old. But after Fleming revealed that the phone calls were recorded, he confessed to having sex with her.
Fleming told Davidson County prosecutor Kristen Menke that Laise claimed the sex was “out of love.” Fleming also testified that Laise knew the girl since she was 7, and had coached her since she was 9 years old.
Laise’s attorney, Laura Dykes, challenged two of the warrants that charged Laise with rape of a mentally defective person. Fleming testified that the victim had suffered multiple concussions, including three that required hospitalization. She was also taking medication for depression.
But Dykes’ line of questioning established that the alleged victim drove herself to Laise’s residence and initiated the sex. Fleming also said that she had not missed school or been held back a grade because of her physical and mental health.
“She said she loved him and felt that he loved her,” Fleming said.
Laise told Fleming that he was worried she might commit suicide if he didn’t answer her calls, according to Fleming’s testimony.
Dykes requested that only Laise’s statutory rape charges be forwarded to the grand jury, but Eisenstein chose to forward the warrants as charged. He said the issue of mental defectiveness could be addressed in the grand jury proceedings.
A grand jury will hear the case and decide whether or not to indict Laise on the charges.
According to police, additional victims have come forward in the case.
Laise’s court appearance was delayed twice, the first time after he attempted suicide in jail the morning after he was arrested.