Friday, August 15, 2008

Softball coach accused of sex with teen player

August 15, 2008
A Sumter County softball coach is free on bond after he was accused of having sex with one of his players.

Jose Gonzales, 35, was arrested Saturday and charged with five counts of unlawful sexual activity with a minor. He posted $5,000 bail early Sunday.

Investigators became aware of the allegations after the victim's parents became suspicious of her interactions with Gonzales and called the Sumter Sheriff's Office, according to Lt. Bobby Caruthers.

The victim told investigators she and Gonzales had intercourse in the back seat of his car earlier that day. She was able to describe the back seat of Gonzales' car and told investigators she had thrown a tissue out of the car's window near the parking lot where the incident took place, which deputies later recovered, Caruthers said.

Investigators then arrested Gonzales, who denied the allegations, Caruthers said.

The victim was a player on an independent traveling softball team for 15- to 17-year-old girls, which Gonzales coached. Gonzales was also a board member of the South Sumter Girls Softball League, but he was dropped from the board after his arrest, Caruthers said.

Investigators are interviewing players on the victim's team and in the softball league to determine if there are other victims. Caruthers encouraged players' parents to speak with their daughters about the incident and relay information about it and others to Deputy Sheriff Andy Wills at 352-793-0222.

Helen Eckinger and Martin E. Comas of the Sentinel staff contributed to this report.

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