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Coach Arrested; Inappropriate Touching Alleged

SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

A former coach of the girls track and cross-country teams at El Toro High School was arrested on suspicion of “inappropriately rubbing or touching” four student athletes during last year’s season, officials said Friday.

Vernon Brent Smith, 50, was arrested by sheriff’s detectives at his Mission Viejo home about 10 a.m. Thursday after a four-month police investigation, Orange County Sheriff’s Lt. Hector Rivera said.

Smith was a walk-on coach for the girls cross-country team during the 1996-97 school year, said Bill Manahan, assistant superintendent of the Saddleback Valley Unified School District. He was not rehired for the temporary coaching job this year, but Manahan said Smith’s dismissal was unrelated to the criminal investigation.

“We first heard about these charges in the early part of September,” Manahan said. “By then, Mr. Smith had already been relieved of his position.”

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After Smith left El Toro in June, a female member of the school’s varsity track team told officials that he had inappropriately touched her and several other teammates during the prior track season, officials said.


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