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Ex-Coach at Private School Is Accused of Molestation

Times Staff Writer

A former athletic coach for a prominent Corona del Mar private school has been arrested on charges of felony child molestation, Newport Beach police said Monday.

Alan Thomas Rigby, 39, of Irvine, a former boy’s track coach at Harbor Day School, was scheduled for arraignment Monday, but the hearing was postponed to Sept. 30 in Harbor Municipal Court, according to Deputy Dist. Atty. Lewis Rosenblum. Rigby was arrested late last week.

The postponement gives Rigby more time to arrange for an attorney through the public defender’s office and also a chance to raise bail, which has been set at $100,000, Rosenblum said.

Coached at UCLA

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Before coaching at Harbor Day School, Rigby coached in the Mission Viejo High School district and at UCLA, where he was the track and field program’s hurdles specialist. He also ran private youth sports programs and health clubs, and sold encyclopedias door-to-door for a time, according to court documents from a 1983 case involving Rigby.

In that case, Rigby was charged along with 15 other people with investment fraud for his participation in the El Toro-based Golden Eagle Investment Co.'s sale of unregistered securities. He eventually pleaded guilty to two misdemeanor counts and paid $2,500 in restitution, but a judge held his sentence in abeyance and dismissed all charges against him in August, 1986.

Rigby’s arrest on the molestation charges occurred about a week after Harbor Day parents first complained to school officials about reports from their children of being sexually molested during the 1986-87 school year, Newport Beach Police Officer Kent Stoddard said Monday.

The alleged victims were boys between the ages of 9 to 11, who were under Rigby’s supervision, Stoddard said.

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“We know of 10 victims at this point, but we’re continuing to interview more students who also may have been molested,” Stoddard added.

John F. Marder Jr., Harbor Day’s headmaster, refused to discuss the charges other than to say that the school “acted appropriately.”

“I understand that there are allegations going on at this particular point of time. This institution has taken the appropriate steps. We know it doesn’t concern anyone employed at Harbor Day School,” Marder said.

Harbor Day, one of the county’s most respected private, non-religious schools, has an enrollment of about 400 students, kindergarten through eighth grade. Tuition is about $2,000 a year.

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The school attracts students from many south county communities, including Laguna Beach, Irvine and Laguna Hills, as well as Newport Beach.

Stoddard said police were contacted during the week of Sept. 14 by Harbor Day officials, who reported that one or more of their students alleged that they had been molested during the last school year.

“The school apparently was just notified by the parents (on that date) and they, in turn, notified us,” Stoddard explained.

A state Board of Education spokeswoman in Sacramento said private schools fall under the same state definition of child-care custodians as do public schools, which legally must report child-abuse allegations to police or a child-protective agency in writing within 36 hours after notification.

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Rigby was employed by the school from September, 1986, through March, 1987, Stoddard said.

Marder confirmed Rigby’s employment dates but declined to discuss the reasons for Rigby’s termination or any specifics of the case.

But Rosenblum, who did not want to elaborate, said Rigby’s termination “was not related” to the current charges.

On Monday, Rigby attempted to have his bail reduced from $100,000 to $10,000 but Municipal Judge Selim S. Franklin denied his motion, Rosenblum said.

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Rigby, who had been held in Newport Beach Jail since his arrest, was taken to Orange County Jail after his bail hearing.

Rigby’s wife, who is eight months pregnant, attended her husband’s hearing Monday, according to the prosecutor. The couple are expecting their second child.

Times staff writer John Spano contributed to this story.


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