BOULDER, CO – MAY 30, 2019: Philip Peters Hufstader is escorted out of the courtroom by a Boulder County Sheriff’s Deputy after being sentenced to eight years in the Department of Corrections after his sentencing hearing on Thursday at the Boulder County Courthouse. (Photo by Jeremy Papasso/Staff Photographer)
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Despite attempts by Philip Hufstader’s lawyers to paint his actions as a result of incredibly bad judgment, the former youth soccer coach for FC Boulder who carried on a sexual relationship with one of his players, was sentenced to eight years in prison on Thursday afternoon.

Per a plea deal made in February in which he pleaded guilty to sexual exploitation of a child and contributing to the delinquency of a minor, both with a sexual factual basis, Hufstader also was sentenced to three years of parole and 10 years of sex offender intensive supervised probation.

He also will have to register as a sex offender and complete court-mandated treatment sessions.

A Boulder County grand jury indicted Hufstader in June after police say he had a sexual relationship with a then 15-year-old girl in 2017.

The girl, who was on the FC Boulder youth soccer team Hufstader coached, testified before the grand jury that Hufstader began giving her free, private lessons. The girl testified she and Hufstader — who was married at the time — would then have sex in his car after those lessons, at hotels during team trips, and at least once at Hufstader’s house.

On Aug. 27, 2017, the girl’s mother showed up at one of the private lessons to watch, but found her daughter and Hufstader having sex in his car. She reported it to FC Boulder, and Hufstader resigned shortly thereafter.

Hufstader, now 36, and the victim, now 17, argued the relationship was consensual, but Boulder Deputy District Attorney Michael Petrash laid out a significant amount of circumstantial evidence portraying Hufstader as a calculating predator who used his position to manipulate an entire community.

Boulder District Judge Bruce Langer said that while he took the victim’s testimony into consideration, Colorado’s laws of consent were written because minors are more susceptible to manipulation.

“This is a case where the defendant’s betrayal of trust to the community is almost beyond belief,” Langer said during Thursday’s sentencing. “This is not the case of a mistake or impulsive behavior. This is a case of grooming, stalking, and at least 10 admitted inappropriate sexual acts with the victim. … Apart from homicide, sexual crimes relating to children are probably some of the most serious offenses we have in our community”

The victim, however, recalled the six-month relationship differently.

“During the course of my experience with Phil I never felt belittled or powerless, sharing an equal role in the relationship, always making my own decisions,” she told the judge. “In no way do I fear him, or feel victimized by the relationship or the experience. There really has not been an emotional or physical impact on me.”

While the victim said she felt the court system had not properly weighed her arguments for no jail time, Langer said “it has to be realized that when the defendant says he was in a sexual relationship with the victim, it was not a sexual relationship as we understand in our community. This was a pattern of abuse and when that violation is committed by a coach, parent or teacher, it is all the more offensive because of the disparate power relationship between the parties. … I hope that in time the named victim will come to understand the situation she was in more fully ”

When speaking at the sentencing, Hufstader admitted he knew what he was doing was wrong and that he kept doing it doing it anyway, but he hopes his “unconscionable” actions don’t have a lasting effect on the victim or her family.

“I put my physical and emotional needs above everyone else,” he said. “At the time I felt like I was falling in love with her and rationalized my actions from that basis. … I am terrified what my future holds for me in the Department of Corrections, but I want to be the good person I know I can be and work my way back to be a contributing member of society.”

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