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Police: Former hockey coach - Zachary Meints - encouraged players to send sex pics

12:16 PM, May 4, 2012   |    comments
Zachary Meints
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Zachary Meints, 24, faces five counts of Internet sexual exploitation of a child. Each charge he faces carries a maximum sentence of up to six years in prison if convicted.

A recently-unsealed warrant affidavit details the graphic nature of Meints' alleged conduct with some of the players he coached on the Rocky Mountain RoughRiders 15-and-under team with the Boulder Valley Hockey Foundation.

In September 2011, a fellow coach tipped FBI investigators after hearing players talking about Meints asking for naked photos.

Boulder investigators spoke with 13 potential victims and witnesses in the case. Five of those alleged victims are under the age of 15, Boulder Police say.

When Boulder police confronted Meints, he claimed he engaged in "locker room" talk. Pressed further, Meints said he would text or Facebook chat with players and ask how many times a day they masturbated.

The affidavit says Meints admitted he challenged players on two occasions to a masturbation race while communicating with them on Facebook. Police say the masturbation races would prompt alleged victims to send Meints "proof" they had finished.

Several victims told police Meints would ask about the size of their penis and encourage them to masturbate. They also said Meints would talk to them about sex toys and pornography.

In December, 9Wants To Know learned an internal memo distributed among youth hockey officials shows they knew about sex allegations involving the assistant coach more than two months before parents were notified. The memo was distributed among six people described as "officers or directors for Boulder Hockey Club or the Rock Mountain RoughRiders," as well as a team owner.

The memo, which was given to 9Wants To Know by a member of the hockey club who asked to remain anonymous, says "all six have decided that it is in all parties' best interests to keep this between the six of us until further development of these allegations or legal counsel tells us different."

Also in December, Bill - the father of an alleged victim - spoke to 9Wants To Know on the condition 9NEWS hide his identity to protect his son. Bill says the hockey officials should have notified parents sooner.

"I think that shows they weren't looking out for our kids," Bill said. "Who knows what could have gone on between then and now?"

Dennis Hefter is president of the Boulder Valley Hockey Foundation, where Meints served as coach for several years, including 2009, which is when some of the alleged illegal behavior took place.

"It's a shock, and it's here in our backyard. Our first concern is for the kids, obviously," Hefter said.

Hefter confirms he and other hockey officials learned of the police investigation two months before the allegations became public.

"We had no idea if it was true or not, but we immediately took action," Hefter said.

Meints was suspended from his part-time job as a rink-maintenance worker and also suspended from coaching. Meints was working for Boulder Hockey Club at the time of the allegations. The hockey club's board of directors issued the following statement in December:

"We are shocked by the allegations regarding former Assistant Coach Zach Meints, as nothing is more important to us then the well being of our players. Out of respect for everyone involved, we will let the legal process take its course. Because this is an ongoing investigation, it would be inappropriate to comment further at this time."

Meints is currently free on $35,000 bond. Meints will next appear in court May 30.

(KUSA-TV © 2012 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)

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