COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – Former Bloom-Carroll Athletic Director Chad Little is looking at prison time after an appearance in court Thursday for sexual battery charges.

Little, who was indicted in September on four counts of sexual battery, changed his plea to guilty in February and asked to have his Feb. 7 trial vacated. Part of Little’s plea change included a joint sentencing recommendation of four-and-a-half years in prison, which he received Thursday.

At his sentencing hearing, the victim’s mother, the head athletic trainer at Bethany College, and the victim read impact statements.

“Makenzee is a victim by definition only. Makenzee is a survivor and a voice for all those girls who have yet to find theirs,” said Misty Richardson, Victim Assistance Coordinator with the Fairfield County Prosecutor’s Office

NBC4 usually does not identify victims of sexual abuse, but Richardson said Makenzee Mason and her family are okay with video of her impact statement being shared as she hopes her voice can strengthen others.

“Something in me started to die that day. Every single day since, I’ve been dying, but today I get to take a piece of my life back,” said Mason. “I’m sharing my hardships so the others know I struggled too, and it’s ok to have hard days. I am no superwoman for speaking here today, but I hope there is peace in my strength.”

Little resigned from the district in November 2022 while he was on unpaid leave. Little was originally arrested on two counts of sexual battery after he engaged in sexual conduct with Mason, who was enrolled at Bloom-Carroll Local School District where he worked, according to Fairfield County Common Pleas Court documents.

The abuse started near the end of Mason’s sophomore season, according to Fairfield County Prosecutor Kyle Witt. Witt said the incidents involved in the lawsuit took place between August 2018 and September 2020.

“He was supposed to be her mentor and look out for her as a coach and athletic director and school administrator should. Instead at a very young and vulnerable stage in her life he took advantage of her,” said Michelle Callahan, Mason’s mother.

Little spoke briefly during the sentencing, looking at the judge as he apologized.

“I stand before you a humble and imperfect person. I would like to and need to apologize specifically to the victim and her family. I’m truly sorry for pain and angst that I have caused through my own choices,” he said.

He also apologized to his family, friends, and the community.

“There is no going back to the old me, but I get to wear my new life with pride, strength, and courage. I will never forgive Chad Little and his actions, but I do forgive myself,” said Mason in her impact statement. “From the start of this process I told everyone I will be a voice for the darkness, the injustices that I and many others faced. As this chapter closes, know I will continue to fight for not only myself but you all too.”

A complaint in a separate civil lawsuit extensively details accusations against Little, saying that he engaged in “aggressive grooming” during the 2017-2018 school year. This included private calls and texts, which Little previously faced punishment for with past students, according to his personnel record.

This went a step further in March 2018 when Little initiated physical contact with the student on a bus coming back from a game, which coincides with the time period listed in Little’s criminal case.

Little’s texts to Mason turned sexual after this incident, the lawsuit said. The athletic director also began sexually abusing Mason — who was a minor at the time — on school property, in Little’s office after games and at Little’s home.

The assaults included choking, hitting and restraint. Further, the lawsuit listed Little as making pressuring comments to the student to keep them from telling anyone, including “I will go to jail,” and “I will lose my kids,” as the abuse went on.

The athletic director’s conduct extended to other students, and the lawsuit complaint gave examples of incidents it said various defendants were aware of. Scroll through the timeline below to view more:

The incidents formed a reputation for the athletic director, according to the lawsuit documents.

“Little’s inappropriate relationships with students were common knowledge at BCHS, discussed throughout the school hallways, lunchrooms and even in the presence of teachers and staff, who often participated in the conversations,” the complaint document read.

The other defendants were named for not taking appropriate action in response to what the lawsuit document claims was a history of misconduct by the athletic director. Specifically, the lawsuit targeted these people and groups:

  • Bloom-Carroll Local School District
  • BCLSD Board of Education
  • Shawn Haughn, the superintendent
  • Nathan Conrad, the principal of Bloom-Carroll High School
  • Jan Wisecarver, the vice principal of BCHS
  • Cynthia Freeman, the district’s Title IX Coordinator
  • The Ohio Department of Education

Little was also twice reprimanded, once in 2013 about inappropriate text messages to a student-athlete, and again in 2019 for not reporting text messages, which were deemed appropriate, with a student in a timely manner.

As punishment, Haughn made Little study four articles on professional relationships and write an essay reflecting on them. He also told the athletic director he wasn’t allowed to text, personally email, or send a social media message to any student again, including as a response.