Coach accused of sexual misconduct with girl
An Orange County high school basketball coach and campus security monitor was arrested Tuesday morning on suspicion of sexual misconduct with a female student, authorities said.
Thomas Cole, 32, was taken into custody at 11 a.m. at Aliso Niguel High School in Aliso Viejo, said Sheriff’s Department spokesman Jim Amormino.
Cole was charged with two felony counts, Amormino said. The incidents occurred in Cole’s former Irvine residence over at least a couple of months; there were no sexual encounters at the school, Amormino said.
He described the encounters as “probably consensual . . . but illegal.”
Sheriff’s officials believe there could be additional victims.
A parent of a former student recently voiced concerns about Cole to administrators after witnessing inappropriate behavior off-campus, Amormino said. Orange County sheriff’s officials began investigating Friday.
Cole had worked as Aliso Niguel’s campus supervisor for two years, patrolling hallways and lunch areas before and after school, checking restrooms and issuing detentions to tardy students, among other duties, said Julie Hatchel, a spokeswoman for the Capistrano Unified School District. He also was the assistant coach for the freshman girls’ basketball team.
Cole met the school district’s background screening requirements, which include a fingerprint analysis by the U.S. Department of Justice. Per district policy, Cole was immediately placed on leave; his employment status will be reviewed once his case has been adjudicated, Hatchel said.
“Obviously, CUSD is very concerned about the allegations [and is] taking them seriously,” Hatchel said.
She would not elaborate on the victim’s age or grade, and could not confirm if she played on the basketball team.
Aliso Niguel Principal Charles Salter e-mailed a letter to parents Tuesday afternoon, alerting them to the arrest and giving assurances of student safety.
“The safety of each and every one of our children is of primary importance to me,” he wrote. “I continue to encourage you to speak out when you see something that is not right. . . . My door is always open. Our union is a formidable one if we continue to work together in protecting our children.”
Cole lives with his parents in Fountain Valley, Amormino said. He was in custody at Men’s Central Jail in Santa Ana on $100,000 bail.