Girls’ JV basketball coach arrested on sexual assault charges had alleged relationship with player

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DOVER, YORK COUNTY, Pa. -- Police in York County arrest a girls' basketball coach on charges of institutional sexual assault, as well as unlawful contact and communication with a minor for sexual offenses.

Both charges are third degree felonies.

Dover Area High School's girls' junior varsity team is up against Northeastern High School Wednesday night, but they are without their coach.

The Dover Area School District recently suspended 23-year-old girls' JV basketball coach Aignee Freeland.

Now, she's been arrested on charges related to an alleged sexual relationship with one of her players, a 16-year-old girl.

York County Children's Advocacy Center executive director Deb Harrison is familiar with helping families through cases like this.

"These things always occur in a culture of secrecy, and teenagers are already secretive from their parents. So, really encouraging parents to find ways to be parents," Harrison said.

"Often the temptation with teenagers is we want to be their best friend, and encouraging parents to to step forward, and say 'I'm the parent here, and I need to see your phone, I need to know who you're texting, I need to know who you're in communication with,'" Harrison added.

Court documents state that Northern York County Regional Police received reports of a relationship between the coach and the student.

A police investigation found 18 video calls made, received or missed on the victim's phone on two dates in late December.

"The coach should be able to communicate with parents about what's going on. There shouldn't be a need to text a child," Harrison said.

Court documents state the victim told investigators that she and the coach first chatted through social media, then through phone calls or text.

The victim also stated that she would meet with her coach at various locations after practice, sit in her car and talk, and that coach Freeland would touch her sexually, all over her body.

Police said both coach Freeland and the victim knew this could get Freeland in trouble, and that they agreed to keep their relationship a secret.

Whether their alleged relationship was consensual, Freeland now faces third degree felony charges for contact with a minor, and institutional sexual assault.

"It has to do with being in a position where you are in some sense, a position of power over a child. As a coach you may see yourself as their friend, but you are their coach. You are in a position where you can make decisions that impact that child," Harrison said.

"In terms of culpability and responsibility, we would again, point to that adult, that's the difference, it's an adult and a child, so we would really look to that and say this is an inappropriate relationship," Harrison added.

Harrison recommends parents should ask about their child's school's communication policy between students and coaches.

Some coaches may or may not be completely clear on that policy.

"They need to understand the ethics of their role. They need to understand that they're in a leadership position, and the organization that they're connected to should be ensuring that rules and understanding is in place," Harrison said

Meanwhile, Dover Area High School administrators say they are cooperating with police during the investigation, and offering counseling to students.