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A youth soccer coach is accused of sexually abusing teenage boys and girls over the course of 14 months, in a criminal case described by one official as “every parents’ nightmare.”

The District Attorney Queens County announced the charges against Harrison Torres on Tuesday, Dec. 17. Authorities allege the 23-year-old engaged in a disturbing pattern of abuse against minors, with victims just 13, 14 and 15 years old. According to the allegations, Torres had been a soccer coach with the now-defunct American Eagle Soccer Academy.

He’s now facing a long list of charges, including first-, second- and third-degree sexual abuse, third-degree rape, second- and third-degree criminal sexual act, possessing a sexual performance by a child and more.

More from the allegations

The charges are laid out in four criminal complaints filed against Torres. They include accusations he:

  • Sexually abused both a teenage girl and a teenage boy at his home in separate incidents
  • Recorded some of the sexual abuse
  • Held a 13-year-old boy against the wall at a local high school and touched his genitals
  • Sent videos to a 14-year-old boy showing himself sexually abusing other teens
  • Offered that same 14-year-old money in exchange for explicit photos

Torres should be presumed innocent unless proven otherwise. If convicted, he could face up to 50 years in prison.

Sexual abuse by youth coaches

When announcing the charges, Acting District Attorney Ryan said in a statement: “This case is every parents’ nightmare – a coach gains their trust and then betrays them in the most vile ways to feed his own sick, sexual desires.”

He is also asking anyone who believes their child may also have been abused by the defendant to contact the police.

Sadly, while abuse in youth sports is rare, it still happens. One organization, citing various studies, estimated 2-8% of young athletes experienced sexual assault within the context of the sport. In nearly all cases, the perpetrator was a coach, teacher or instructor. Those coaches can prey on young athletes by taking advantage of the trust that inherently comes with the relationship.

For parents or loved ones of survivors, there are physical, emotional and behavioral signs that may suggest they have experienced sexual abuse. In addition to criminal charges, it is possible to pursue a civil claim against the perpetrator. While it will not undo what happened, it can be a way to seek justice while providing financial security for things such as medical bills and emotional suffering.