Football coach charged with indecent assault
A Wellington football coach has been stood down indefinitely amid allegations that he sexually assaulted a player in his team.
Alejandro Gonzalez Mendez, 36, a painter from Costa Rica, was approached by police on Wednesday as he finished a coaching session with members of the Wainuiomata Association Football Club senior women's team at the club's football ground.
They later charged him with indecently assaulting a player in the team. Detective Senior Sergeant Scott Cooper said police were continuing to investigate an incident alleged to have happened between April 1 and June 27.
Gonzalez Mendez appeared in Lower Hutt District Court on Thursday, where Judge Peter Butler remanded him on bail to appear again in court later this month.
He was ordered not to associate with any member of the football team that he coached.
He was also told to surrender his passport.
Yesterday, Gonzalez Mendez, who has lived in New Zealand for 11 years and has a partner and two young children, said the player had accused him of touching her breasts.
He denied the allegations and said he was co-operating with police, who had searched his home and taken a computer hard drive.
"When they [the police] asked me to come with them ... I was shocked. I didn't know what it was for," he said.
"I haven't done any of the things that she is saying. I guess that's why the police are involved so they can verify everything and then something will come clear."
Gonzalez Mendez said the player's allegations could be attention-seeking behaviour.
Wainuiomata Association Football Club president David Meiklejohn said he felt "sick" when he heard news of the allegations.
Gonzalez Mendez had been stood down from coaching while the incident was investigated. He had also been banned from the club's home ground and associating with anyone from the club.
"We have made sure he will have no further contact with the club in any shape or form until this matter is resolved."
Gonzalez Mendez had been involved with the club for two years as a player and as a coach, Mr Meiklejohn said.
"Our main focus is on the complainant and that she is as good as she could be at this time," he said.
He did not believe any other women in the side had been assaulted by Gonzalez Mendez.
Capital Football Federation, the body governing football in Wellington, was unaware of the allegations when contacted by The Dominion Post.
Federation chief executive Richard Reid said he was comfortable with how the alleged incident was being dealt with by police and the Wainuiomata Association Football Club.
It is the second serious incident to hit the sport in Wellington this season.
Last month, Jan Chmielewski, the coach of a junior Island Bay United team, was banned from coaching for the season after he allegedly threatened to kill a volunteer referee during an 11th-grade game of 10 and 11-year-olds on May 12.
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