On Sunday, February 23, 2020, a former Winchester Community High School teacher and coach was arrested on multiple counts of sexual crimes against a minor.
Ryan C. Vermillion, 46, of Marion, Indiana, has been arrested and charged with 12 counts of Vicarious Sexual Gratification, a Level 4 Felony and 12 counts of Child Exploitation, a Level 5 Felony. The sheriff's office said they believe this to be an isolated incident involving a specific juvenile and no other juveniles appear to be involved.
Vermillion was the head coach the Winchester Black Attack football team from 2006 until 2010. His contract was not renewed after a 1-9 season in 2010. He later coached Marion's football team to a 3-28 record from 2013-15.
Former player, Taylor Mock stated, “As people started texting me and messaging me on Facebook, I just wanted to believe that this isn’t true. It hurts deep down when it’s your old head coach because I had him all 4 years I played ball in high school. You just never think about this stuff happening especially so close to home. All I could do was think about his family and hope that somehow this couldn’t be happening.”
The Probable Cause Affidavit submitted to Wells County Prosecuting Attorney is a detailed report explaining the reasons for the recent criminal arrest of the former Winchester coach.
The report states that on February 18, 2020, Norwell Middle School Principal Holly Morgan stated that a school issued iPad had been seized and that the iPad contained evidence regarding child pornography.
Morgan explained that on February 18, students had observed the 13-year-old victim using the electronic device during class time which was against the rules. Students reported the wrongdoing and the victim was called to Morgan’s office where the school owned iPad was confiscated. Upon inspection, Morgan found a conversation on an app that she felt inappropriate. Scrolling through the conversation, Morgan soon found the conversation was of sexual nature and contained explicit pictures sent from between the victim and a male subject. The victim admitted that she was the person communicating with the male subject involved the in conversation, who is later identified as Marion High School guidance counselor, Ryan Vermillion.
Morgan contacted Deputy Bradley, the Norwell Middle School Resource Officer, and the mother of the victim who arrived at the school. The school issued iPad, as well as the victim’s personal iPad were collected and held for police as evidence. Upon speaking with the victim, Morgan learned that the victim met the unknown person online and began communicating with him believing the male to be of the same age as herself.
DCS officials met with the victim, her mother and law enforcement officials to gather further information. The victim stated she met the male subject on a website. Admitting to activity on the site in December of 2019 and January 2020, she spoke to the unknown person named “Will Ryan” who quickly asked her to move to another app to communicate. At the same time “Will Ryan’s Uncle” began messaging the victim eventually telling her that “Will Ryan” had died of cancer. The victim stated she did not know the identity of the either subjects but the uncle had sent her a photo of his face which remained in the conversations on the iPad.
Upon further investigation at the Sheriff’s Department, three month-long conversations were found consisting of daily conversations and picture exchanges of a sexual nature. One picture sent of “Will Ryan” showed a closeup view of a man’s face.
Assuming the picture to be the male subject, it was sent for further examination. A report sent back listed possible matches including that of Vermillion. Further searches found that an Indiana BMV driver’s license displayed a picture of Vermillion that was nearly the exact as the one found on the iPad. After consulting and further review, it was agreed to be that of Ryan C. Vermillion.
Multiple days of conversations between the two continued and were almost entirely sexual in nature. The male subject also talked about meeting and even getting the victim a passport so they could travel outside the country.
Admitting to sending videos to the male subject, she also received videos from the male subject on three different occasions. The victim stated that the videos she watched and the picture of the male subject were the same person.
On at least two occasions the victim stated that she was 14 years of age when really she was only 13. In January and February, Vermillion questioned the victim and asked if she was in 8th grade and she stated yes leading officers to believe that Vermillion knew his subject was underage.
Employed at Marion High School as a guidance counselor, Vermillion has been identified from the dozens, if not hundreds of the explicit pictures and videos sent between the two. The photos fit the criteria to be considered child pornography under Indiana Statute. The reporting officer states in his report that during the course of the investigation, it was determined that Vermillion was the suspect in a criminal case involving child pornography, child exploitation and child solicitation. Information collected between January 1 and February 18, 2020 led officers to believe the intent was that Vermillion wanted to manipulate the victim into thinking they were in a relationship.
Vermilion, has been suspended pending termination according to Marion Community Schools. A school-issued statement read, "Marion Community Schools was made aware Sunday evening of the arrest of Marion High School employee Ryan Vermilion on serious charges stemming from a criminal investigation in Wells County, Ind. He is suspended pending termination as legal and personnel due processes move forward. At this time details are limited, and we defer to Wells County law enforcement officials to address any further questions. We are in full cooperation with law enforcement. We cannot comment further on the investigation or the personnel process at this time."
His bond has been set at $240,000, according to the sheriff's office. As of Tuesday morning, Vermillion remained housed at the Wells County Jail. The sheriff's office reminds that the charges are merely accusations and Vermilion is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.