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Laura Weiss had always known she wanted to be a top swimmer, possibly an Olympian.
But that dream was crushed –– at least temporarily –– when she became a victim of sexual misconduct. She was 14 at that time, a freshman at Lawrence North High School, when her then-36-year-old swimming coach sexually abused her.
Now, more than three years later, the 18-year-old is back on track with her dreams.
Weiss is this year’s top winner of the Kiwanis Abe Lincoln Scholarship, an annual program that recognizes 25 high school seniors who have faced significant challenges, such as homeless, drugs, abandonment, disabilities and others. Along with that recognition is a $16,000 scholarship.
Christopher Wheat, the ex-swimming coach, was sentenced to 10 years in prison in September 2010 after pleading guilty to two counts of sexual misconduct with a minor and one count of child solicitation. In May 2012, he was released from prison and transferred to a halfway house, where he’s serving a two-year sentence that could be shortened to one year.