(KTEN) — It has been almost a year since Ringling High School principal and head football coach Philip Koons was placed on administrative leave after allegations of abuse and hazing emerged in February, 2023.

Then in October, Koons, 61, was charged with a misdemeanor count of outraging public decency in Jefferson County.

In a surprise turn of events, a plea bargain that would have resulted in no jail time for Koons on that charge was denied Tuesday by Jefferson County Judge Dennis Gay.

The deal was proposed during Tuesday's hearing. It would have resulted in a seven-year deferred sentence that prohibited Koons from having any contact with the Ringling school district.

"I've seen it happen once in my 40 years," said attorney Tod Mercer, who represents the victims. "It rarely ever happens, because the judge got both sides coming in there, agreeing to something, and when both sides come in to agree to something, usually the judge is going to grant it."

The court will meet again on March 12 to enter a "blind plea." The assistant district attorney says that means Koons' fate is now in Judge Gay's hands.

"They'll come in and present their evidence, and hopefully the DA will argue for the victims in this case, and argue that he should get a longer sentence," Mercer said.

Koons had previously been suspended from his official duties after parents and students claimed that he had verbally and physically abused high school athletes, amid reports of a "cult-like environment."

The Ringling Public School Board of Trustees later voted unanimously to renew Koons' contract. The school district and Koons' attorney were both unavailable for comment on Wednesday.

Ringling is located about 25 miles west of Ardmore.