COVENTRY, Conn. (WTNH) — A now-former Coventry coach will spend four years in prison for creating a fake social media profile to solicit nude photographs from the girls he coached.
Zachary Vannais, 28, was sentenced Friday on two counts of risk of injury to a minor, two counts of enticing and minor and two counts of misrepresentation of age to entice a minor. He was sentenced to 10 years, which will be suspended after four years served.
After his release, he will be on probation for 10 years and is required to register as a sex offender.
“This case highlights the risks associated with young people, predators, and social media,” Supervisory Assistant State’s Attorney Jaclyn Preville, who prosecuted the cases, said in a written announcement. “More importantly, however, it highlights the fact that sexual offenders can hold themselves out to be pillars of the community, gaining the trust and confidence of children and parents alike. The children who were victimized by Mr. Vannais, and their families, should be commended for the courage it took to come forward and report these incidents. It can often be difficult to report cases of sexual abuse and grooming, and the bravery of these families cannot be understated.”
Vannais was a basketball and baseball coach for Coventry’s recreation department when he created the fake account, contacted eight students who played on his team in late 2019, and then tried to get them to send nude photographs, according to an announcement from Tolland States Attorney Matthew Gedansky.
Vannais, who posed as a teenage girl, offered to pay the girls or give them gifts if they sent the pictures.
Seven of the girls were under the age of 16.
The girls told their parents about the messages, and the police were called. He was arrested in March 2020.