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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Spokane volleyball coach at center of Sheriff’s Office controversy sentenced in child porn case

The Thomas S. Foley United States Courthouse in Spokane.  (JESSE TINSLEY/THE SPOKESMAN-REVIEW)

A 50-year-old Spokane volleyball coach whose child pornography prosecution factored into the firing of a Spokane County sheriff’s deputy was sentenced to five years in federal prison Wednesday.

Richard D. Wright Jr. pleaded guilty in February to receipt of child pornography after FBI investigators discovered more than 600 explicit images at his home in Spokane Valley. Wright had coached at Lewis & Clark High School and a club team that included the daughter of Spokane County Sheriff’s Deputy Craig Chamberlin, whom Wright asked for a character reference letter in the middle of his case.

Chamberlin was later fired by Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich for lying during the investigation, a charge Chamberlin disputed after announcing his intention to run for Knezovich’s office this fall, though he said writing a letter of support was “a misjudgment.” Chamberlin withdrew from the race last month.

Wright’s devices, seized by the FBI, included explicit images of minor victims ranging in age from 12 to 15. But investigators did not find any images believed to be of girls he coached, according to a statement from the U.S. Attorney’s Office of Eastern Washington announcing the sentence.

“It is deeply troubling that a coach, entrusted with the safety of teenage – and younger – girls, engaged in child pornography conduct that demonstrated his sexual interest in girls that age,” Vanessa Waldref, the United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Washington, said in a statement.

The sentence handed down by U.S. District Court Judge Thomas O. Rice includes supervised release for the rest of Wright’s life upon release. Family members and Wright’s employer wrote letters of support indicating he complied with legal requirements during the investigation and continued to be employed during the case.

Wright was taken into custody after the sentencing hearing and was listed in custody of the Spokane County Jail on Wednesday evening.