Volleyball coach arrested for lewd texts
DEERFIELD BEACH, Fla. (WSVN) -- A South Florida volleyball coach was arrested Tuesday for allegedly sending text messages to a 15-year-old girl in which he pressured her to have sex with him.
Police said Michael Morales, director of Matrix Volleyball Academy in Deerfield Beach, attempted to trade coaching for sex from one of his players. Authorities indicated the teen rejected her 38-year-old coach's advances and told the coach his behavior was illegal.
"This 15-year-old was quite savvy," said Broward Sheriff's Office spokesperson Dani Moschella. "She said [to Morales], 'My consent isn't even legal, you're going to get in trouble, we should stop.'"
Moschella added that Morales' text correspondence with the teenage player began in June 2012. "They were volleyball-related, they talked about practice, they talked about his fees," she said.
It wasn't until October that the nature of the messages changed. "They became somewhat sexually charged," Moschella said. "He started suggesting things to her, like, if she could really be trusted, if she was 'all in,' so to speak."
According to BSO, a forensic examination on the victim's phone retrieved these text messages:
Morales: "1st request is I want to make this fun and pleasurable...this deal is a sacrifice sexually."
Victim: "So if I don't do what you ask sexually I can't train? Who else have you done this to?"
Morales: "That's private and u have to be in all the way."
Victim: "We both know this is no longer about volleyball. How does sexual submission and volleyball relate?"
Authorities said the victim claimed her coach asked her to erase their correspondence so there would be no evidence. Morales has been charged with one count of computer child exploitation.
Officials said the victim sought authorities after feeling uncomfortable, scared and anxious. Before Morales could act on his suggestive messages, she also told her parents about them, and they went to BSO.
Morales' colleagues and relatives are stunned at the charges. "He's a great person," said Matrix volleyball coach Mike Cabeza. When asked whether text communication between coaches and players are commonplace, Cabeza said, "Yeah, sometimes, yes."
A woman whose daughter had Morales as her coach for a year refuses to believe the allegations. "I don't believe any of it, he's a wonderful man," said Parette Gesell.
Miguel Morales, the coach's father, said he is "very upset at the situation, because he's always trying to help kids." He insisted the allegations are false. "What someone is doing to him right now is making no sense. I'm trusting my son, I'm trusting God, and I know this is all going to be cleared," Miguel Morales continued.
Matrix Volleyball Academy spokesperson Vicky Keating read from a printed statement on Morales' behalf. "He maintains his innocence and looks forward to the truth coming out," she said.
Besides running the volleyball club league, Morales coaches athletes, including a player in the 2012 Olympics. He continues to deny these charges and has hired an attorney.
Because of Morales' close proximity with his teen players, detectives expressed concern that there might be other victims.
If you have any information that can help police in this investigation, call Broward County Crime Stoppers at 954-493-TIPS. Remember, you can always remain anonymous, and you may be eligible for a reward.
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