PHOENIX - Police say they arrested a man earlier this week who was a volunteer coach at a Phoenix school, after reports that he engaged in sexual conduct with a young teen.
According to Phoenix police Sgt. Steve Martos, the suspect, 21-year-old Julian Titcomb coached basketball last year at Saint Catherine of Siena Catholic School near Central and Southern Avenues. That’s where he met the victim, who was 13 years old at the time.
Parents like Lovia Lechuga, who sent her son to the school for six years, say they chose it to give their children a good education and reinforce religious values.
“It can happen whether it's public school, private school, Catholic school, it doesn't matter,” said Lechuga.
Titcomb reportedly found the victim online in December and began a relationship with her, starting with dirty Facebook messages, then texts and phone conversations.
“It’s hard these days with Facebook and cell phones,” said Lechuga, who does not allow her son access to either. “You're opening up a whole new door for them to do a lot that parents don't even understand or know about until something like this.”
“As a girl, you almost might look up to your coach as a father figure,” said Titcomb’s neighbor, Denise Link. “For something like that to happen, it can cause a child to not trust anyone anymore.”
Titcomb’s relationship with the girl became sexual in nature in February, Martos said.
According to court papers, the victim and Titcomb met in his car several times, as well as at his home.
“I've always wondered about that because they're always in the garage late at night, doing whatever, I don't know,” said Link about her neighbors.
Other neighbors also expressed disgust with the allegation.
“Guys are going to be guys and they're going to do what they can to get what they want,” said Joseph Jordan, who lives down the street from the house where Titcomb and the girl allegedly had sex.
Police began the investigation regarding Titcomb on March 10, when the victim’s parents became aware of the relationship, Martos said.
Martos said the victim was confronted by her father about the relationship and that she admitted to it.
When detectives from the Phoenix Police Department’s Family Investigations Bureau arrested Titcomb Wednesday, he also admitted to the involvement, Martos said.
According to court documents, Titcomb expressed concern about the effect his arrest would have on his future in the Army.
“It should,” said Jordan. “It’s a pretty cut-throat decision for him to do that. I mean, he knew what he was doing. He knew it was wrong, and he did it anyway.”
Titcomb was booked on eight counts of sexual conduct with a minor.
Copyright 2011 Scripps Media, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
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