Oregon City

Oregon City soccer coach accused of sexually abusing 12-year-old

Oregon City soccer coach accused of sexually abusing 12-year-old

OREGON CITY, Ore. – Police arrested an Oregon City soccer coach on sex abuse charges Tuesday.

Detectives with the Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office and Oregon City Police arrested Joseph Christopher Leonetti, 43, at his home and took him to the Clackamas County Jail.

The victim was a 12-year-old player on a club team that Leonetti coached, the sheriff’s office said. Leonetti has a long history of coaching girls soccer, including the West Linn High School soccer team from 1997-2006.

Leonetti faces five counts of sexual abuse in the first degree.

Butch Pollard, Leonetti's coaching partner, said Wednesday night he's been trying to figure this out since Monday. That's when he said Leonetti called him and resigned from the soccer club shortly after Leonetti was interviewed by police.

"I coached side by side with him for 12 months," Pollard said by phone. "I never saw anything physical of any kind."

Pollard is the founder of the Eastside Timbers Soccer Club.
"I helped coach the same players and the individual that was involved, and I'm sitting here shaking my head – how in the world can I connect the dots here?" he said.

Pollard said the victim is a girl who was on the team he coached with Leonetti for the past year. Pollard also said Leonetti's daughter is on the same team.

"It had nothing to do with soccer. It had nothing to do with the club or with his coaching. The event occurred outside of soccer at a family event," Pollard said.

Leonetti started his elite career at the University of Portland. He was inducted into the school's athlete's Hall of Fame in 2001. He also played in the pros for several years after college and was a member of the men's national team. When the clock ran out on his professional career, he switched to coaching.

"I'm not saying anybody's lying. I'm just saying from a human’s perspective, it's just, it's really hard for all of us to believe that because Joey's just an incredible young man," Pollard said.

No one answered the door at Leonetti's home Wednesday night.

Leonetti is due in court Thursday. His bail is set at $1.25 million. KATU requested an interview with him in jail, but he declined.

The sheriff’s office is concerned there are more victims. The crimes may have occurred as recently as winter of 2012.

Anyone with information about Leonetti is asked to call the sheriff’s office tip line at 503-723-4949, or text "CRIMES" (274637). Start text messages with "CCSO" to send a tip to the Clackamas County sheriff's office.

KATU News reporter Hillary Lake contributed to this report.