Sheila McLaughlin reports:
An assistant swim coach who was fired from Countryside YMCA in Lebanon after being charged with inappropriately touching a young female team member during a North Carolina championship meet Saturday has a long history of coaching area children.
Patrick Jeanneret, 30, of West Chester Township coached the varsity swim team at Fairfield High School from 2007 to 2011, when he won two Miami Conference Coach of the Year Awards, according to his biography on the Countryside Torpedoes website.
He began as assistant coach in 2004 at Great Miami Valley YMCA in Fairfield, where he took over as head coach in 2007.
Fairfield school officials said they had no complaints about Jeanneret. Officials at Great Miami Valley YMCA said they are in the process of alerting families of any children who swam while Jeanneret was a coach there. Jeanneret has been fired from his position at Countryside.
“The kids are our most important concern. We’re doing our due diligence to make sure families are aware of this,” spokeswoman Karen Staley said. “Our hearts really do go out to the family of the little girl in the incident.”
Torpedoes parents and swimmers contacted by The Enquirer Tuesday didn’t want to talk about Jeanneret or the alleged incident. But others who knew Jeanneret as a coach in Fairfield expressed shock.
Mark Morris’ daughter Melissa swam several years for both the Fairfield YMCA and Fairfield High School swim teams.
Morris, who also sits on the Fairfield Board of Education, said he never heard of any incidents involving Jeanneret while his daughter swam for him.
“You’re around these coaches year-round. You think you know them pretty well. I guess we didn’t,” Morris said. “We have to let this process play out. I don’t want to indict him.”
Countryside officials sent an email to Torpedoes parents on Monday that applauded the swim team staff on how they responded to the situation and promised a review of policies and changes if needed.
Mike Carroll, president and CEO at Countryside, has declined to give specific details of the alleged incident.
Heather Wooley, a chaperone on the trip and wife of the booster president, could not be reached. Her husband, Bill Wooley, said she would not be interested in giving comment.
Jeanneret was arrested for “taking indecent liberties with children” Saturday for an alleged incident at 3:30 a.m. at the Marriott Hotel, 301 N. Greene St., in Greensboro, according to police there. Police were called about 5:15 a.m.
Greensboro police would not discuss the allegations against Jeanneret, who bonded out of jail after posting $20,000. He could not be reached for comment.
A heavily redacted incident report obtained by The Enquirer says Jeanneret gave a statement to police and had been using alcohol or drugs.
In North Carolina, the law Jeanneret is charged under accuses him of:
■Willfully taking or attempting to take an immoral, improper or decent liberties with any child of either sex under the age of 16 for the purpose of arousing or gratifying sexual desire, or
■Committing or attempting to commit any lewd or lascivious act upon or with the body or any part or member of the body of any child of either sex under the age of 16.
He’s scheduled to appear in Guilford County District Court on May 10. If convicted, Jeanneret faces at least 16 months in prison. An on-line search and checks of local court systems indicate that Jeanneret does not have a prior criminal record.
At the time of the arrest, Jeanneret was attending the 2013 YMCA Short Course National Championship meet with 25 members of Countryside Y’s Torpedos swim team, along with the head coach and chaperones, Carroll said.
Jeanneret joined the Lebanon-based Y in summer 2011. Carroll said Jeanneret passed federal and state criminal background checks. Former employers did not report any problems with Jeanneret, Carroll said.
The Torpedoes website also said Jeanneret swam for Lakota Hills Swim Team and for four years at Lakota East High School. He served as assistant coach and head coach with Lakota Hills for nine years.
Tyler Nuss swam for the Fairfield YMCA two years while Jeanneret was head coach.
Nuss left the team his senior year at Fairfield High School to swim for the Countryside YMCA, before Jeanneret began coaching there.
“I left for better coaching,’’ said Nuss, 21, who is a senior at Gardner-Webb University in North Carolina, where he received a scholarship for swimming. “I feel really bad for Countryside and their coaches. When I moved (to that team) I did increasingly better.”
During the years he swam at Fairfield, Nuss said he did not experience or hear of any inappropriate behavior on Jeanneret’s part.
Nuss’ father, Don, sits on the Fairfield Board of Education. He too, was shocked when he heard the news.
“I don’t know the whole story, but if he was with a younger child, he certainly needs help,’’ the older Nuss said. “He shouldn’t be in any position where he has contact with children.”
Jeanneret’s arrest is the second time since 2011 that Countryside Y has been hit with a scandal. The Y was inundated with requests from people who wanted to cancel membership after police reported that an illegal steroid investigation that started at Countryside had snared at least 32 suspects in six counties.
Countryside officials later clarified that they were the whistleblower in the case and had tipped off police that someone attempted to sell steroids at the Y.
Reporter Rachel Richardson and Sue Kiesewetter contributed.