Just before 4 p.m. Friday, an alarming email was sent to parents from the executive director of the Asheville Buncombe Youth Soccer Association (ABYSA).
It warned of an “inappropriate interaction” between an unknown man and a female player at the Buncombe County Sports Complex.
“It’s absolutely terrifying when you hear of that happening to a child,” said Katie Sealey, who has a child who plays soccer for ABYSA.
Here is the email that was sent to parents:
ABYSA recreation, HFC Academy, Classic and Intermediate Families:
****BCSP Safety Alert*****
Just a short time ago I received information from an HFC Parent about an inappropriate interaction between an adult male and one of our younger female HFC Players. I wanted to bring this to everyone’s attention immediately so we can all be vigilant in looking out for the safety of our own children and each other’s children!
The parent reported the following:
Last night during my son's pre-academy training at BCSP, my 10-year-old daughter was practicing some skills with her friends (who happen to be boys). One of the boys came over to me later and said "there's this man who is only interested in training (my daughter’s name) and its kind of strange." He apparently sent the boys off because he said he was a girl’s coach for ABYSA and only trains girls. He was a Caucasian man, wearing battered up jeans, an old baggy tee shirt and a baseball cap. I know the coaches. I've never seen a coach dress to this description. After watching for a short bit and seeing the man put his hands on my daughter hips to "help her with a kick", I started heading that direction. Once he saw me walking that way, he bolted and was gone. I was so focused on my daughter, making sure she was ok, I didn't pay close enough attention to the direction he went which I regret, but my daughter comes first.
I am not trying to make a huge deal out of this, but it was very strange and very uncomfortable and as a parent, I would want to be told to remember to keep an eye on the kids. It's so easy to get comfortable there (like sending your kid to the bathroom on their own or go kick the ball around with some friends) especially when you're at those fields at least 5 days/ week, but it's also way too easy for some strange adult to be inappropriate with the kids when it is as busy as it is there.
We have reached out to the Buncombe County Sheriff’s Department. The have said they will increase their patrols in the park. If you observe something that makes you feel uncomfortable, please act by making your presence known and call 911!
Yours in safety,
“I was really surprised to read it, because we’re here everyday,” said Christi Tucker, who has two sons who play for ABYSA.
“Unfortunately, I feel like it’s really vital for us as parents to stay vigilant, even when we feel at home,” Sealey said.
The parents News 13 spoke with said they are thankful for ABYSA’s quick response and efforts to keep everyone informed. They also said they’ll have to work together to keep their kids safe.
“Unfortunately, wherever there are kids, there are predators,” Sealey said.