Board member for metro lacrosse team admits to sexual misconduct with teen athlete

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PLATTE COUNTY, Mo. -- Prosecutors say 61-year-old Overland Park man tried to solicit a 17-year-old girl for sex by sending explicit text messages. He promised her a spot on a collegiate lacrosse team.

Court documents say James McEnerney was an onsite coordinator and board member for Midwestern Force Lacrosse, a club team.

Midwestern Force Lacrosse, which now goes by Major Force Lacrosse, said McEnerney hasn't been affiliated with them for two years and only ever talked to people about their services.

According to prosecutors, McEnerney started sending the 17-year-old victim sexually charged texts around Christmas 2017.

James McEnerney

The victim told investigators he would ask her if he could be her sex coach. Platte County Prosecuting Attorney Eric Zahnd said he violated the trust of the lacrosse player and her family.

"It's so good that she was able to withstand these really shameful advances from this coach," Zhand said. "And that, ultimately, her mother found out (and) was able to confront the coach who said that what he did was wrong."

According to court documents, the victim told her mom the texts made her feel uncomfortable and scared. She was "afraid...he would force me to do something."

On one occasion, the victim and McEnerney went to dinner. When he got into her car, court documents say he touched her thigh "a lot" and kissed her on the cheek.

"Like a lot of high school athletes, they're going to have time alone with coaches," Zahnd said. "What we expect is that those coaches carry out that position of trust in a way that is helpful to kids and not harmful."

McEnerney was sentenced to 15 days in jail for the sexual misconduct charges, but he won't serve any of that time. A judge suspended the sentence.

Instead, he'll be on probation for two years. He can't have any contact with anyone under 18 and cannot be involved with any sports teams. The Platte County prosecutor said the law doesn't allow for a harsher sentence.

"There's a loophole in the law now that says high school teachers or coaches who try to entice a child into sex are always guilty of a felony," Zahnd said.
"Unfortunately, that does not apply to club sport coaches. I think that needs to change."

Missouri State Rep. Kevin Corlew is sponsoring legislation to change the law next session, according to a spokesperson from his office.

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