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Soccer Coach Convicted; Producing Child Porn

Oak Hill's Ralph Shipler was once a popular and well-respected, girls soccer coach. He's now a convicted felon who will be sentenced next month for producing child pornography — some, involving members of his own team.

Shipler, 61, of 3215 Ravenscraig Court in the Chantilly Highlands community, has been held in the Fairfax County Adult Detention Center since Oct. 2. Police obtained warrants for his arrest on Sept. 29, charging him with three counts of that crime. On Dec. 10, in Circuit Court, he pleaded guilty as charged and is now facing a possible 30 years in prison.

He first came to the attention of authorities in early September. Det. Lewis Barrickman detailed the case against him in an affidavit for a warrant to search his house for possible evidence. He obtained his information from FBI Special Agent Marc Dinardo.

Barrickman wrote that, on Sept. 7, police in Pennsylvania's South Beaver Township received a complaint about a disorderly individual at the White Thorn Lodge — which was hosting a nudist camp at the time. The complaint alleged that someone was videotaping children from a van parked nearby.

A local police officer responded and contacted the van's occupant, later identified as Shipler. "After initially denying that he had a video camera, Shipler produced a camera and several videotapes," wrote Barrickman. "A review of those tapes revealed images of nude children."

Court documents stated that Shipler, who has a daughter of his own, photographed members of the team he coached, the Herndon Force — a travel soccer team for girls 13 and under — while they were nude and in various stages of undress.

According to the detective, Shipler did so via a hole leading from the garage of his Oak Hill home into a bathroom where the girls were changing clothes — some, putting on bathing suits. The girls were unaware that someone was photographing them.

Barrickman wrote that some of them wore clothing indicating they played youth soccer in Northern Virginia. He noted that the camera often focused on their breast and genital areas.

Shipler told authorities his team had merged with another one to become the Little River Force. "He also stated that he resigned as a coach after the incident in Pennsylvania," wrote Barrickman.

The grand jury indicted Shipler on Nov. 17, and he pleaded guilty, Dec. 10, in Circuit Court. He's scheduled for sentencing, Feb. 6, by head Circuit Court Judge Michael McWeeny. Each count of producing child pornography is punishable by a maximum of 10 years in prison.