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Chris Kamrani and Tom Wharton
Chris Kamrani and Tom Wharton write about all aspects of high school sports for the Tribune. Follow Chris Kamrani on Twitter at @chriskamrani.

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Josh Lyman unlikely to face criminal charges, but district still investigating (UPDATED)

UPDATE: In a conversation late Friday with The Tribune Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill said no final decision has been made on whether Josh Lyman will face criminal charges. He said the process will likely be completed next week. However, Ed Brass, Lyman's attorney, said he spoke with senior staff in the DA's office Friday night who informed him everyone had been notified of the decision. "I don't know who's not communicating with whom," Brass said. Gill said he was baffled that there was a belief that there were no charges coming, because he had not yet reached that conclusion. He said that decision is final "not when a reporter says it, now when the defense attorney says it. It's when the prosecutor says it."

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Josh Lyman's attorney reiterated Friday that he has been told the Cottonwood football coach and teacher will not face criminal charges for "inappropriate contact" with a female student, and that the development is a step toward a full exoneration.

However, a Granite School District spokesman said the administrative investigation is not affected by the absence of charges, meaning Lyman could still be fired if the allegations are proven.

Lyman, 32, was placed on administrative leave on April 27, a move that attorney Ed Brass said "came as a complete shock to him."

The fact criminal charges will not be brought, however, was expected, Brass said.

"[Lyman] is neither relieved nor elated," he said, "because he felt he was innocent all along. If he was relieved or elated that would imply some sense of, 'Gee, sure dodged a bullet there,' and that's simply not the case. He didn't do anything."

The woman who accused Lyman of inappropriate contact is 18, Granite School District Spokesman Ben Horsley said, correcting previous statements he made to The Tribune.

"Obviously, with her not being underage that limits prosecution's ability to pursue charges, even though she may be a student," Horsley said.

Conceivably, a teacher could have an inappropriate relationship with a student that was not illegal, if she was 18 and there was consent. But Brass said that is not the case with Lyman.

"He says there was no contact between the two of them," Brass said, "consensual or otherwise. No contact. Zero."

While Brass maintained that the lack of criminal proceedings "ought to be some indication that he's been vindicated," the district released a statement late Thursday that suggested its administrators still believe there are grounds for dismissal.

"We continue to investigate a number of administrative concerns with regard to professional standards and conduct as a teacher," the statement said. "While they may or may not have criminal implications, they may have licensure and employment implications."

Brass decried the district's pointed remarks about Lyman, including Horsley calling the interaction between Lyman and the student as, among other things, "the worst thing that could happen to a school community,"

"I'm frankly appalled at the public pronouncements that the district has made while this investigation was pending," Brass said.

However, Horsley said no district representative has discussed Lyman's innocence or guilt, and has only talked about the impact allegations alone have on the school.

"They are totally devastating to a community and a school community," he said, "and even more so if they are proved true."

Lyman, a former wide receiver at the University of Utah, was hired as interim coach at Cottonwood in 2010, after the death of coach Teko Johnson, and was elevated to the full-time head coach following the 10-1 season. Last year, the Colts went 5-5, but are expected to be one of Class 5A's best teams next fall with a superstar-laden team that includes Cooper Bateman, one of the nation's top quarterback recruits.

— Bill Oram

Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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