A former swim coach who was sentenced to eight years for molesting a 14-year-old girl is expected to be released next week after serving less than two years of his sentence. It's partially thanks to education credits and a bachelor’s degree he earned while in prison.
It's not sitting well with the father of Chris Wheat's then 14-year-old victim.
"At the sentencing, Chris Wheat said to the court he was sorry and accepted his sentence and I have not seen one act on his part that would make me believe, he meant any of that," said the victim’s father.
In 2011, the former Lawrence North swim coach was convicted of two counts of sexual misconduct for his improper relationship with the underaged girl.
"It is a wound that does not seem to be healing. Every time we think something is going in the right direction, we get a new wild card dealt to us,” said the victim’s father.
Shortly after his cell door closed, Wheat hit the books, taking advantage of an Indiana law that lets inmates further their education while whittling down their prison time.
Wheat’s good behavior shaved four years off of his sentence. Another year was wiped away after he earned an associate’s degree. An additional 489 days were credited for completing a bachelor’s degree.
"It is pretty difficult to believe that there is any intent to make good on the sentence, for him to be reformed; it has all been a game to him."
On paper it's a lot of work in the short amount of time. The father of Wheat's victim said Wheat used credits he already earned, from Oakland City University. Credits Wheat received more than a decade ago.
"They are giving him credit for classes he took 18 years before he started this new degree program."
According to Oakland City's 2011 handbook, credits earned more than 10 years ago cannot be used for a bachelor’s degree. Officials at Oakland City University wouldn't comment to Fox59.
In a letter to the father of the victim, Provost Michael Atkinson cited the 2008 to 2010 handbook. He said it was in place when Wheat enrolled. In that handbook, Atkinson said there was no reference to age of transfer credit.
"This whole system, this whole situation stinks," said Indiana Senator Jim Merritt, R-District 31.
Merritt wants Indiana law rewritten, but he's running out of time. He said the current law is in place to rehabilitate criminals and help them occupy their time, not to be used as a way of getting out of jail early.
"We are going to have to have a complete understanding of which colleges serve the Department of Corrections and make sure they understand and what a policy should be.
“This transfer in credits is ridiculous. I think we need a complete revamping of the law of what education credits for incarcerates is all about," said Merritt.
The father of Wheat's victim knows efforts to keep the former swim coach behind bars may come up empty.
"If we had it to do over again we would, but this is not justice. This is not what the outcome should be at this point."
A post-conviction expert from the Marion County's Prosecutor's Office has been brought it to find out what more can be done to keep Wheat behind bars.
Senator Merritt said he's encouraging the DOC to reemphasize that the credits wheat used to reduce his sentence were earned inside jail.